The Way of the Gun (2000)
Sarah Silverman’s memorable cameo which opens The Way of the Gun is rather brilliant. Hilarious, dark and it sparks a punch up. Funny followed by fighting. Tone set.
Ryan Phillippe and Benicio Del Toro superbly play two petty thieves who nonchalantly bite off more than they can chew when they abduct a pregnant lady (the ever amazing Juliette Lewis) who is connected to a mob boss. That’s the plot. Simple, yes? It’s not. I mean it both is and it isn’t. The Way of the Gun is not easily boxed, and even if you box it you’d probably still only be half right.
For its time The Way of the Gun was wildly different while maintaining a mass appeal structure. Back then it appealed to me, and I found that appeal endures on this latest enjoyment of it.
The writing is sharp, dramatic, witty and in places outright hilarious; but you’d expect that from Christopher McQuarrie, the writer behind The Usual Suspects. McQuarrie penned The Way of the Gun as well as taking the director’s chair on it- his first time in the role. Thematically the film reminds me a bit of No Country for Old Men, but a closer comparison might be Seven Psychopaths. Both came after The Way of the Gun, for what it is worth.
It is intricate and violent and clever, but The Way of the Gun got me thinking beyond just what was on screen. Is there a subtext about men fighting over who has what say with regards women’s bodies and what they do with them? I’m asking that to us both, me and you. I’d say probably, but it’s difficult to take on board when there’s all this cool shooting and violence to distract from the real issue.
Oh wait. That probably is the point, isn’t it. It’s easy to forget with all the bloodshed and squabbling that at the centre of the film is a young woman trying to protect her unborn child while men rage violently around her to decide what her and the child’s fate is, without caring one bit for either of them.
The Way of the Gun isn’t perfect, but it isn't far off and it does try to play with a formula, to good effect. This success makes it a little sad (to me) that McQuarrie is now almost exclusively employed by Tom Cruise whose films don’t so much play with formula as take them as doctrine. Not that I have anything against a Cruise film, they're good fun and I don’t have the money for a lawsuit.
Bedsit it? It feels pathetically shallow saying this now, but the action is really well done, very exciting and cruelly unforgiving. After a hiatus due to over saturation, I was somewhat reticent to rewatch The Way of the Gun. If anything, thanks to this viewing I love it a little bit more. 8/10
P.S. James Caan is brilliant.