The Way of the Gun (2000)

THE WAY OF THE GUN, the directing debut of USUAL SUSPECTS screen-
writer Christopher McQuarrie, is an off-beat, intermittently vio-
lent thriller starring Benicio Del Toro and Ryan Phillippe as low-
living bottom-feeders who try their hand at kidnapping.  So they  
snatch some rich couple's pregnant surrogate mother (Juliette Lew-
is), only learning later that Pops has extensive mob ties.  *And* 
that there's a whole passel of scheming supporting characters who, 
judging by the none-too-subtle reaction shots we're shown, have 
*their* own agendas.  The rest of the movie ensues.  Expectedly, 
the dialogue's the best thing here.  From poetic profanity to ex-
istential asides, this be music to the ears.  Visually, McQuarrie 
also stages some darn good (early) gunfights.  They have a great 
flow.  And his many quirky details are cool, too, like the extend-
ed playing of a lonely game of Russian roulette.  Or the image of 
the ransomee's wife pressing her hand against a big-screen tele-
vised sonogram.  Alas as a scenarist, the filmmaker doesn't do the 
best-est in the believability department.  His story has huzzits 
both big and small and certainly distracting.  Like that the kid-
nappers come off as seemingly expert strategists and yet never even
*think* to think that they might be followed.  Oy.  McQuarrie also 
appears less-than-adequately skilled at actor-wrangling.  Del Toro 
and Phillippe are way okay, but nearly every other performance is 
off-putting-ly off-kilter, be they spaced-out (Lewis) or seriously 
overacting (Dylan Kussman, as the baby doctor).  The latter turns 
fatal in the second hour, when select scenes start playing like a 
bad soap opera.  And that damn dramatic music doesn't help one bit. 
Woof!  I walked out and went to the mall.  With Taye Diggs, Nicky 
Katt, Scott Wilson, and James Caan, whose nice to see on the big-
screen again.  NURSE BETTY is very, very good, however.  Review 
forthcoming.  (Rated "R"/120 min.)

Grade: W/O

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: The Way of the Exit

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros