The Way of the Gun

Can't lose. Longbaugh and Parker (Del Toro and Phillippe) take on a hopelessly impossible crime caper...
dir-scr Christopher McQuarrie
with Ryan Phillippe, Benicio Del Toro, Juliette Lewis, James Caan, Taye Diggs, Nicky Katt, Dylan Kussman, Scott Wilson, Kristin Lehman, Geoffrey Lewis, Mando Guerrero, Neil Pollock
Artisan 00/US 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
The Oscar-winning writer of The Usual Suspects makes the jump to hyphenate with The Way of the Gun, a blackly funny, extremely twisty crime drama full of secretive characters and complex moral dilemmas.

Parker and Longbaugh (Phillippe and Del Toro) hope to strike it rich when they kidnap the heavily pregnant Robin (Lewis), surrogate mother for a wealthy criminal (Wilson) and his young wife (Lehman). But the kidnappers don't know what they've gotten themselves into, as they're pursued into Mexico by bodyguards (Diggs and Katt), bag men (Caan and Lewis) and Robin's shaky young doctor (Kussman). And everyone has more invested in this situation than anyone else suspects.

Wit pervades the entire film, as it's written, directed and acted with style and verve, highlighting the situation's gallows humour, which sits in sharp contrast alongside frequent outbreaks of very grisly violence. McQuarrie takes his time revealing all the story's secrets (and there are lots of them); bits of history, relationships and new perspectives continually challenge us to reinterpret the situations and characters. New questions arise constantly, and while the final denouement isn't completely satisfying, it at least feels comprehensive in tying up every lose thread. The acting is first-rate, most notably from Caan, whose rough-cool blows everyone else off screen. Phillippe and Del Toro are fine at the centre of the storm--a pair of bumblers who, refreshingly, aren't remotely stupid. Beneath all the style and cleverness, there's not much to the film really, but at least it grapples with pangs of conscience and tries to fish out the moral centre in its unusual characters.

[18--violence, language, strong themes and situations] 19.Oct.00
US release 8.Sep.00; UK release 17.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall