Bullets, blood and bag men compete for top billing in the dusty, craggy landscapes of California and Mexico as several equally malevolent criminal factions battle it out in "The Way of the Gun."
Way of the Gun - R
Ryan Phillippe, Benicio Del Toro, Juliette Lewisi
Showplace 12 West
The fun begins as twin sociopaths/lowlifes Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro) try to score money donating sperm and instead score a lead to their next big crime: kidnapping and ransoming a pregnant woman, Robin (Juliette Lewis), who is being paid by a selfish rich couple to carry the couple's child. The rest of the movie is one big twisting, turning shoot-out as Longbaugh and Parker seek the money and eventually something a little more admirable through their relationship with Robin.
Although the entire cast does an appropriately shady job of depicting their less than admirable characters, Phillippe and Del Toro steal the movie, making Parker and Longbaugh equal parts ruthless, quirky and emotional. Fun fact: Longbaugh and Parker are the true last names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Competing nicely with the plot are the great visual and technical production values. The gunplay scenes (and there are many) are a pinball machine of flying bullets and bodies, with bloody deaths enough to make even the bravest viewers squirm. Director Christopher McQuarrie, an Oscar winner for the screenplay of "The Usual Suspects," makes the movie an homage or an imitation of any good Quentin Tarantino film, depending on your opinion of the movie.
You'll leave "The Way of the Gun" a little dizzy from all the movement, a little in love with Del Toro, Phillippe and Taye Diggs and Nicky Katt (who play Robin's bodyguards), and a little confused about at least one aspect of the plot and maybe more. "The Way of the Gun" is a good movie but what keeps it from becoming a great movie is a lack of explanation of some of the key plot points.
The movie seems like one that can't be understood until you've viewed it at least twice. The gamble is if this inconsistency will cause moviegoers to give up or come back to battle it out with our antiheroes another day.