The Way Of The Gun

2000, Movie, R, 119 mins


Had this blood-soaked exercise in mayhem been written and directed by anyone other than Christopher McQuarrie, who wowed audiences with his script for that barrel of red herrings, THE USUAL SUSPECTS, it would have probably gone straight to video. Benecio Del Toro and Ryan Phillippe star as a pair of hard-luck crooks who call themselves Longbaugh and Parker (the real names of legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). While waiting to make some quick cash donating sperm at a Southwestern fertility clinic, they overhear a conversation involving a very rich couple, a surrogate mother and a doctor's appointment for sometime next week. A light flickers on: Why not kidnap the surrogate mom and hold the unborn baby for ransom? There are several good reasons why not — chief among them that the daddy (Scott Wilson) is a dangerous man connected to some very bad people — but the thugs aren't thinking past the $15 million ransom. Against all odds, Longbaugh and Parker snatch the mother (Juliette Lewis) right out from under her bodyguards (Nicky Katt and Taye Diggs) and make it to a seedy motel somewhere in Mexico. But that was the easy part; collecting the money is another story, especially once the baby's father has sicced his trusty bagman (James Caan) on them. Add a restless wife (Kristin Lehman) and a jittery OB/GYN (Dylan Kussman) and you've got the recipe for an impossible tangle that's not worth untying. There are a few stunningly violent set-pieces, but McQuarrie is no Peckinpah, whose poetic touch this bit of Jim Thompson-inspired nastiness could have used. McQuarrie isn't even George Roy Hill, whose BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID seems to have inspired the Mexican standoff finale. McQuarrie's script may be full of written-to-be-quoted dialogue — some of it so-so ("There's plenty of free cheese in a mousetrap"), some of it painfully pretentious ("Karma is only justice without the satisfaction") — but in the end the film has absolutely nothing to say. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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The Way Of The Gun
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