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The Way Of The Gun  

Parker (Ryan Phillippe)
Longbaugh (Bencio Del Toro)
Joe Sarno (James Caan)
Robin (Juliette Lewis)
Jeffers (Taye Diggs)
Obecks (Nicky Katt)
Abner (Geoffrey Lewis)

Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Rated R for strong violence, gore, language, sexuality and brief nudity
Running Time: 119 minutes Distributed by Artisan

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The Way of the Gun is an ultraviolent, dirty and twisted ransom film. Longtime crime partners Parker (Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Del Toro) were hoping for a simple and quick payoff when they abducted Robin (Lewis), a young woman carrying the child of a powerful crime couple. It proved to be more complicated then they expected. The two partners have to deal with two square bodyguards (Diggs and Katt), the police, an aging philosophical mercenary (Caan) and feelings they both have for Robin. As the moment for the ransom exchange approaches, Parker and Longbaugh must battle not only well-armed men, but also their own conflicted emotions that they are feeling for the first time. The Way of the Gun is a very bloody, but mostly amusing film that reminded of a mix between Suicide Kings and Desperado.

Christopher McQuarrie wrote and directed The Way of the Gun. McQuarrie previously won an Oscar for writing the incredible crime story, The Usual Suspects. This script by McQuarrie does have a few of the same type of twists and niches that The Usual Suspects capitalized on. However, The Way of the Gun does contain some dryness, which is something that The Usual Suspects didn't have. Even though I didn't not like the voice-over by Parker in the film, I thought that the characters and metaphors in the writing were effective. The best metaphor in the film is when Longbaugh relates loneliness and isolation to a card game of hearts. There is also a few scenes that were capitalized by the characters' actions (and the actor's body language) that reveals what the characters' intentions are without saying a single word of dialogue. The last twenty minutes of the film does fall into the mode of being a graphic and violent blood bath, but there are even some aspects in the last twenty minutes that are original ideas from McQuarrie. His direction seemed to be okay with a sort of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino touch to it.

Ryan Phillippe is an actor that seems to be getting better, but I am still not impressed with his acting as Parker. On the other hand, Bencio Del Toro is a fine actor that has a simple way of expressing his thoughts and actions through his body language and driven eyes. Juliette Lewis doesn't turn in her best performance, but is substantial as the pregnant Robin. I also thought that Taye Diggs was striking only when he didn't speak any dialogue as Jeffers, but I saw him as flaky when he did utter some dialogue. The best performance and characterization in the film is by James Caan. Caan is an actor that I haven't seen deliver good work in a long time, but I thought that he was superb in The Way of the Gun. He has sort of a rough but relaxed way of playing the aging mercenary Joe Sarno that ends up being a joy to watch.

The Way of the Gun is a movie that people might call a copycat of Reservoir Dogs, in which it is similar, but different.

Report Card Grade: B-

Beastman's Movie Reviews

Second Opinion by John Howard Oxley

Most bad movies have some redeeming features, but try
as I might, I could find nothing worthwhile in this turgid mess. Bad enough
that there are incredible lapses of continuity: the opening sequence has, as
near as I can tell, absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie, and
repeatedly something happens to make you say "How did THAT happen?".

A tawdry tale of two small-time losers [possessing a most unconvincing ability to come up with master gunplay when in a tight corner] who kidnap a pregnant woman for ransom, this is that rare movie with no winning or likeable characters at all. The kidnap victim [Juliette Lewis in one of her worst roles] is in fact a surrogate mother for a rich couple, the husband of which is a cowardly, chiseling money-launderer for the mob, while his ghastly wife is having an affair with one of the bodyguards.

The kidnappers are sadistic psychopaths, and the security guard/rescue team is no better -- when you start cheering loudly as the characters get killed off one by one, and are disappointed that any remain alive when the final credits roll, you know you have just beheld a genuine stinker.

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