The Way of the Gun

Common Sense Media says

Exceptionally violent movie -- not for kids.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Extreme and prolonged violence.

Sex

Sexual references and situations, scenes in brothel, adultery.

Language

Very strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an exceptionally violent movie with a very gory childbirth scene and lots and lots of gunfire. Many characters die brutal deaths. Characters drink, smoke, commit adultery, use profanity, lie, cheat, and steal.

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What's the story?

THE WAY OF THE GUN centers around a couple of petty criminals named Longbaugh (Benicio del Toro) and Parker (Ryan Phillipe). In a confrontation outside a club, we learn that our heroes are tougher than they are smart. Joe Sarno (James Caan), who is both smart and tough, asks which is the brains of the outfit, and Longbaugh responds honestly, "Tell you the truth I don't think this is a brains kind of operation." They have no ability to think about the risks they are taking, and even if they did it would not matter because they just do not care. Their lack of ability and indifference to the outcome turn out to be their greatest assets when they decide to kidnap a pregnant woman named Robin (Juliette Lewis), a surrogate mother carrying the child of a wealthy couple. The kidnapping and ensuing chase are so badly organized that the experienced bodyguards who escort Robin to the doctor are not able to figure out what they are going to do, and they get away.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Christopher McQuarrie, the screenwriter of the deviously brilliant The Usual Suspects, wrote and directed this bleak, tough-talking story with terrific dialogue. The characters are exceptionally interesting, especially as the story unfolds and there are some surprises in their relationships and history. The performances are outstanding, especially Caan, Taye Diggs as one of the bodyguards, Dylan Kussman as Robin's obstetrician, and Kristen Lehman as the millionaire's trophy wife. McQuarrie shows a sure hand in his first time as director, with a muted color palette, strong rhythm, and effective action sequences.

If only it was held together with a brilliant conclusion, as McQuarrie did in The Usual Suspects. No thrill in the ending here, just a long, long, shoot-out. Longbaugh and Parker are not coincidentally the real names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and this movie has some resonances with the classic western about two men who ran out of options. But unlike that classic and like McQuarrie's own The Usual Suspects, he doesn't let us care about the protagonists, leaving an empty feeling.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the family and non-family relationships, and how loyalties are -- and are not -- determined. Some family members may have questions about surrogate parenthood and how the biological parents and the mother who carries the child feel about it.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 8, 2000
DVD release date:October 23, 2001
Cast:Benicio Del Toro, Juliette Lewis, Ryan Phillippe
Director:Christopher McQuarrie
Studio:Artisan Entertainment
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence/gore, language and some sexuality

This review of The Way of the Gun was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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