Christoper McQuarrie might be a name you’re familiar with. Best known as the writer of The Usual Suspects and more recently directing Jack Reacher and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Christoper also wrote and directed one of my favorite movies: The Way of the Gun.
Although not perfect, The Way of the Gun offers realistic characters, some great dialogue, awesome gunplay, some quick bursts of humour and a chaotic conclusion that leads to one of the best shootouts in cinema history.
In this violent crime thriller two drifters, Mr. Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Mr. Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro) kidnap the pregnant Robin (Juliette Lewis) who is also a surrogate mother for a dangerous businessman (Scott Wilson). Soon enough, they realize their get rich quick scheme isn’t going to be as easy as it first seemed.
One thing I love about this movie is there are no saviours, or knights in shining armour. Anyone with any form of knowledge of the criminal underworld is also dangerous. Mr. Parker and especially Mr. Longbaugh do not care about anyone but themselves. If you get in their way, you’re dead. Chasing after the pair are Robin’s bodyguards Jeffers (Taye Diggs) and Obecks (Nicky Katt) who both care more about their payday than their client and old-school enforcer Joe Sarno (James Caan). The closest thing to a good guy is Dr. Painter (Dylan Kussman), whose only useful skill is his knowledge of childbirth.
Acting wise, everyone is pretty good in this movie. That being said the two standouts are easily Benicio Del Toro and James Caan. This leads me to the dialogue in this movie, as these two have a brilliant exchange filled with quotable lines and subtext, including Joe’s role in the story, his relation with certain characters, Mr. Longbaugh’s past and his disregard for human life. Be warned that this scene does spoil a fair amount of the movie, so watch at your own risk.
One thing often discussed about this film is the gunplay. Despite being realistic with reloads, trigger discipline and proper tactics such as bounding movement, it’s still stylish, energetic and exciting. Dust and derby kick up as lead flies. Gunshots bark and roar whilst bodies fall lifeless. As an action movie lover, I’d easily put The Way of the Gun’s final firefight up with the best. The initial kidnapping is also tense, as Parker and Longbaugh cover each other as they make there retreat.
With all that being said, this movie isn’t without its flaws. For one the initial kidnapping can be a bit confusing considering where certain characters are. There are also actions taken by a certain character which seem very illogical, even if somewhat understandable once their predicament is revealed.
The pacing at times does drag, especially around the middle. It’s not horrendously slow or anything, but if you do come into this movie expecting a straight action movie (which The Way of the Gun is sometimes billed as) it will come across as a bit slow.
I can also understand if people find it hard to invest in Parker and Longbaugh’s dilemma. In a more conventional movie, they would be the antagonists. They are complete assholes with little regard for others. Honestly, this is something I love about this movie, but I can see some being turned off by it.
Finally, this movie is not for the faint of heart. As you’d expect from a movie called The Way of the Gun, this movie has plenty of violence. On top of that, sometimes the violence is directed at innocent civilians who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Despite its rough edges, The Way of the Gun is a gritty, yet wild ride. It might be difficult to track down but if you like crime movies or realistic gunplay you owe it to yourself to seek this one out.