Plot: What’s it about?
Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro) are small change criminals, but they have plans to rake in a ton of money, thanks to a simple kidnapping scheme. Now granted the two don’t have much experience in this realm of crime, but they figure it will be an easy operation and move forward to put the plan into action. The two focus on a young woman named Robin (Juliette Lewis), who is being paid a large sum of money to be a surrogate mother. But what our two crooks don’t know, is that the paying father-to-be is connected to a powerful mobster (James Caan) and soon enough, two bodyguards are placed on the trail of them. And since these bodyguards (Nicky Katt and Taye Diggs) take their business pretty seriously, things don’t look good for Parker and Longbaugh. As time ticks by, the two realize that no matter what, they can’t escape this caper easily and in order to survive, a lot of gunfire will be needed.
This movie seemed to garned a lot of mixed praise, as some loved it and others found it dull & meandering. In truth, I think those who have an avid history in film will appreciate this film more, as it contains a lot of throwbacks. These occur in the action sequences for the most part, but the film as a whole has a very throwback feel to it, right down to the basic visual approach. I can see why modern action fans wouldn’t care for the action scenes, but I think the sequences work very well and bring back memories of Peckinpah and his style. But that’s not to say The Way of The Gun is a recycled movie by any means, as it has a very unique nature also and that keeps the picture fresh. So even if you’re a veteran of older films of this ilk, you’ll be taken care of and shown plenty of original material, as well as the homages to those classics. The writing of Christopher McQuarrie is more than solid, which allows the actors to really sink into their characters, which is always good. I recommend this film to fans of crime films and those who yearn for the good old days, though anyone interested in a tense action/drama would be well served here. Artisan has supplied a very nice disc and as such, a rental or purchase is well justified.
After his screenplay for The Usual Suspects, Christopher McQuarrie had a lot of pressure to pull a repeat and with though The Way of The Gun is good, it just isn’t that good. His writing here is more than solid, but the dialogue lacks the same knack as before and that takes the icing off a little. But then again, this isn’t as dialogue reliant of a film and with some excellent action sequences, this film stands on its own merits very well. The basic premise and character are well written and while some flaws are present, that is the case with all films, so no real complaints here. I can see how some folks expecting the next The Usual Suspects might be let down, but this is still a very solid film and one worth the time to explore. I’m looking forward to McQuarrie’s future efforts and let’s hope to see those sooner, as opposed to later. The cast here includes Benicio Del Toro (Swimming With Sharks, The Fan), Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers, The Other Sister), James Caan (Mickey Blue Eyes, The Program), Nicky Katt (Boiler Room, The ‘burbs), Taye Diggs (Go, The Best Man), and Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions, Crimson Tide).
Video: How does it look?
The Way of The Gun is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This film uses special visual techniques in order to set the film’s tone, so some slight fading with colors is normal, no worries on that front. There is also a visible amount of intentional grain, but again, no need to be concerned with that issue. The image is very sharp and looks terrific, very few flaws to discuss in the end. The colors look faded, as they should and on the whole, this transfer is very gritty, which is how the film is supposed to look. I saw no serious problems at all with this transfer and as far as I can tell, this presentation replicates the intended visuals very well.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is well used, both in action driven sequences and also the more conservative portions of the movie. When the film needs to focus on dialogue, this mix ensures the vocals are crisp and clean, while the music is immersive, but never overpowering. When the action kicks in though, the surrounds open up and offer some of the loudest gun battles I’ve heard, very cool stuff indeed. The final sequence is a real ear opener, the disc is well worth a rental just to check out the audio present there. So the track can handle the big guns, but also functions well on a more subtle level, no real issues at all to discuss.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This one contains a nice selection of bonus materials, including an audio commentary track with writer/director Christopher McQuarrie and composer Joe Kraemer. This is a well rounded commentary, with McQuarrie discussing various aspects of the production and writing processes. In the end, this one is well worth a listen, if you like the film. The disc also houses an isolated musical score (w/ commentary by Kraemer), some talent files, storyboards and scripts for a deleted scene, and lengthy production notes.