Here’s a question for you; just what do you do after you have written one of the best crime films of the late twentieth century? Seriously, what do you do?
Well, directing your own film might be a good idea. Which, luckily, is what Christopher McQuarrie thought of doing after he wrote The Usual Suspects, the film which catapulted Bryan Singer into the limelight. And what a film it is.
The Way of The Gun is somewhat of a companion piece to Suspect given that it’s main characters, Mr Parker and Mr Longbaugh, are two criminals existing on the edge of society drifting around America. The men fall into a kidnapping scheme which involves a pregnant lady but which gets more complicated by the minute.
That is a brief run down of the film as I don’t want to give too much away. The film doesn’t quite have the layered, labyrinthine structure of Suspects, it is a much more linear and straightforward film.
This isn’t a bad thing as the idea of the film, initially, was to make an anti-Michael Bay film. On the excellent DVD extras there are the storyboards from the proposed original into which has our main characters committing several extreme crimes before showing the LA skyline, the filter on the camera is then removed to show it in it’s grimy dirty reality.
And that there is the core of the film; to strip away the flashy exterior and show the reality of how a situation like this would play out. The plot could easily of been an excellent Manpuncher starring a Van Damme or a Segal but McQuarrie gives it a hard boiled, Jim Thompson style edge.
There are no real heroes in this film, just a group of people trying to get out on top and not caring who they stop over which does make it a film that isn’t for everyone. If you do persevere with it you get some of the best dialogue put on the screen. Seriously, it’s top notch.
It’s also Ryan Phillipe’s best film by a country mile. To be honest that may not mean much looking at his filmography but he really hasn’t been better than in this film.
Arguably, this is the same for Benicio Del Toro. The role here is the flip side of the role he played in The Usual Suspect which made his name. Here, his dialogue is stripped back to the bare minimum, he spends most of his time watching from the side rather than being the centre of attention.
The two together form a great relationship at the centre of the film, around which there are great supporting roles from Taye Diggs and Juliette Lewis. The real winner is James Caan who steals this film from everyone else. It’s no competition, every scene he appears in is in his pocket. It’s a superbly played role.
The Way of The Gun does have it’s issues with the pace dragging in places. This doesn’t stop the film from building to a superb climax that at once understands all the action cliches in the book but also subverts a great many of them.
If you even have a passing interest in the movie crime genre then you must own this film. It’s as simple as that.