Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: The Way of the Gun

Christopher McQuarrie wrote the much-admired The Usual Suspects and much was expected from him after that, but it seems to have taken five years before he got to make another film - for some reason or another, he hasn't made another film with Bryan Singer, who, as we well know, has gone on to make successful films (though they haven't interested me as much as The Usual Suspects). 

McQuarrie wrote and directed The Way of the Gun in 2000 and it seems to have vanished somewhat. There's much to blame in the film itself: the lead characters are not sympathetic (or even interesting) in the least, not even in the you-hate-them-but-can't-turn-your-eyes-away way, and the plot seems forced and pretty difficult to follow at times. The film also begins with a scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the film. 

But at the core The Way of the Gun is actually a pretty good neo-noir film about two almost sociopathic criminals who try to make it big kidnapping a surrogate woman pregnant to a shady millionaire and his cold wife. There's not a good human in the film as everyone is only trying to make things profitable for themselves. In the end, though, some of the characters try to make better, but it proves to be futile. The theme of honour comes to the fore, but in the film there's no sense trying to be honourable. 

The climax with its long shoot-out at a Mexican bordello is reminiscent of Peckinpah and The Wild Bunch. The thematics of the film remind one of Peckinpah, but there's something lacking. Maybe by 2000, one just couldn't handle the thematics of honour and betrayal with confidence. And confidence is something that McQuarrie's direction is lacking, though there are some good moments throughout the film. One thing has to be said in the film's favour: James Caan is simply wonderful as an older heavy. 

More Overlooked Movies at Todd Mason's blog


Gerard Saylor said...

I liked the flick. WAY OF THE GUN is popular among gun nerds for all the various gun nerd reasons.

I listened to part of McQuarrie's DVD commentary and he said he was aiming for a 1970s feel with the clothing choices, desaturated colors, and older gun men (Caan and co.) shooting snubnosed revolvers.

An original intention of the screenplay was to be a mockery of the post PULP FICTION fads of bad-guy weirdness and out-of-place scenes.

Juri said...

Gerard: there's certainly some of that feel, and I can understand what McQuarrie meant with his statement.

Gerard Saylor said...

One odd thing I never got about the flick is that Caan's character is the father of Juliette Lewis's character. A third character mentions how he could tell by looking at them that they were father and daughter.

Yet, Caan looks nothing like Lewis and Lewis's real-life-freaking dad, Geoffrey Lewis, is in the picture! I still wonder if that was supposed to be an inside joke.

Juri said...

Ha! I must've been dozing off when that happened, can't even remember the line from the flick - and I certainly didn't realize they were meant to be father and daughter. That goes to explain why Caan's character was meant to be worried about Juliette Lewis.