A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
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?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: September 8, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: 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
For kids who love thrills
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