The Way of the Gun

Christopher McQuarrie, the brilliant writer behind The Usual Suspects makes his directorial debut in the not so brilliant The Way of the Gun. McQuarrie tries to be hard-boiled and unique, but the movie ends up as a little too derivative, much like the many other Pulp Fiction wannabes. There are small flashes of interesting material, but most of it is lost amongst the rambling. The warning sign is the casting of Benicio Del Toro and Juliette Lewis, two actors who seem to choose stranger and stranger projects as time goes on.

The Way of the Gun is the life that two crooks, known as Parker (Ryan Phillippe, 54, Cruel Intentions) and Longbaugh (Del Toro, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Excess Baggage) live. They survive on the fringe of society, bound by a sense of duty to each other. Robin (Lewis, The Other Sister, Strange Days) is the pregnant with the child of Hale Chidduck (Scott Wilson, G.I. Jane, Shiloh). Chidduck and his wife are paying her a large sum of money to carry the pregnancy to term. Parker and Longbaugh overhear this, and kidnap Robin hoping for a ransom payment. They do not expect Chidduck to send Jeffers (Taye Diggs, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The House on Haunted Hill) and Obecks (Nicky Katt, Rules of Engagement, Boiler Room) after them. Sarno (James Caan, Mickey Blue Eyes, The Yards) is another employee of Chidduck's also waiting in the wings for Parker and Longbaugh.

Much of the movie is an odd road trip, with Parker and Longbaugh trying to evade Sarno, Jeffers, and Obecks. It starts with an amusing car chase, but degenerates into mindless violence with some dreary monologues thrown in. The Way of the Gun is memorable for having some of the loudest gunshots in recent memory (which is not a good thing). In a sense, all of them walk the same path. Although they are out to kill each other, they share a sense of loyalty and respect. They also happen to be incredibly dumb. This provides some laughs, but not many. The best sequence is the end, which, like some other the other gunfights, go on probably about twice as long as they should. Another humorous and inventive twist loses momentum by seeming too much like a similar sequence from Ghost Dog and shares similar themes with Space Cowboys and The Crew.

In terms of performances, almost everybody is low-key, Lewis being the exception. She is histrionic as usual, and walks like no pregnant woman ever did. Phillippe sports an annoying accent, and Del Toro seems to forget he isn't in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Diggs loses any semblance of the suave personality that serves him so well in other movies. Caan also looks extremely uncomfortable. Oddly enough, it suits their roles. They are reclusive, tortured souls ill at ease around people, but they are still wooden and boring. McQuarrie's shots also do not lend themselves to distinction. There is not much in the movie to set him apart from multitudes of other directors. The Way of the Gun may not be the best road traveled.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated R for strong violence/gore, language, and some sexuality.

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