Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio del Toro) are two small time criminal drifters looking for an easy way to live life. They end up at a sperm donation facility, where they overhear a telephone conversation detailing a $1,000,000 payment to a surrogate mother for bearing the child of Hale Chidduck (Scott Wilson). Parker and Longbaugh resolve to kidnap the surrogate, Robin (Juliette Lewis), but their attempt escalates into a shootout with her bodyguards, Jeffers and Obecks. The kidnappers are able to elude the bodyguards, who are arrested. Jeffers and Obecks are bailed out and returned to Chidduck by Joe Sarno (James Caan). As Sarno begins coordinating Robin’s rescue, Longbaugh contacts the surrogate’s gynecologist, Dr. Allen Painter (Dylan Kussman), and orders him to a truck stop to examine Robin. After the examination, Painter returns to Chidduck, and it is revealed that the doctor is Chidduck’s son. Longbaugh calls and demands a $15 million ransom. Jeffers and Obecks, tempted by the money, begin forming a plan to save the child and keep the money themselves. Suddenly all sorts of shady characters are on the trail for Parker and Longbaugh, who got a lot more than they bargained for with this kidnapping…

“The Way Of The Gun” is a different, but yet classic kidnap action drama. It carries marks of Sam Peckinpah and the tone of a western, but is yet set in modern times. The main characters are just bad in all sorts of ways and carries both heavy weapons and less conscience. Parker and Longbaugh (the real last names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) are very odd and it´s hard to put a finger on them. I like that. There´s scenes when they act simply different. Like the unusual car chase scene. That idea came from Benicio Del Toro. He suggested it to Christopher McQuarrie after watching the show Cops (1989) where a couple of criminals did the same when cops were chasing them. There´s realism in the coordinated movements, use of cover, and room-clearing tactics by Parker and Longbaugh, suggesting that they had military training. Christopher McQuarrie’s brother, a US Navy SEAL, was actually the technical advisor for the gunfight scenes. Unlike many movies with action-packed gunfights, every round fired is accounted for and all characters reload when appropriate, with the exception of one sequence in the brothel courtyard where Parker and Longbaugh fire dozens of rounds in rapid succession without pausing to reload: an intentional sort of fun tribute to classic action movie. The dialogue is odd, the pace is odd, some scenes are odd, the direction is somewhat odd, but the action is violent and brute. Somehow I have a hard time to explain my thoughts about “The Way Of The Gun”, except the fact that this movie stands out for sure in it´s bloody oddness. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, “McQuarrie pulls, pummels and pushes us, makes his characters jump through hoops, and at the end produces carloads of ‘bag men’ who have no other function than to pop up and be shot at … Enough, already”.Peter Stack, in his review for San Francisco Chronicle, wrote, “The Way of the Gun attempts to be poetical Peckinpah, but it’s a pointless exercise in gun violence with characterizations so thin they vaporize”.

Fun trivia: The opening scene where Parker punches the loudmouthed character played by Sarah Silverman is explained in the commentary as an idea Christopher McQuarrie had kicked around with his friends while heckling a large group of ultimate frisbee players at a dog park. They realized that if a group of people actually came at them, they would surely lose, but could “steal the victory” by giving the women bloody noses, making the womens’ boyfriends to be the focus of their ire (reasoning that the women would blame the boyfriends for starting the fight in the first place) long after the fight was over. Ryan Phillipe accidentally did punch Sarah Silverman in the opening scene; She got knocked out and when she woke up he was standing over her almost in tears. The make up department used fake blood and the huge lump on her chin was a continuity bonus. Phillipe apologized for a week. (3 and a half out of 5)

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