The Way of the Gun

The only thing you can guess about a broken down old man is that he is a survivor.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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I was one of the few people in the world who didn't think that the Christopher McQuarrie), a recommendation from a friend, and a really catchy title was enough to get it on my list for my regular Saturday screening session (that is watching a movie for us snobby folks). The Way of the Gun is a hell of a good movie.

A guy gets pistol whipped, cutting a large gash in his eye. We see him having a conversation with the guys who smacked him in the bathroom of a gas station. In the background we see a recycling hand towel dispenser with blood all over it as if he was trying to use it to stop the bleeding with only moderate success. The one thing that really makes it work is detail. The incredible depth of this movie all comes down to detail. I sure wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't there, but it really added a level of realism that gave it that much more depth. Later on, a sniper is taking shots at some folks by the car. We see the bullet smack into the ground about 1/2 a second before the report of the rifle is heard. Just a touch of depth more than a typical action movie but adding a whole leve of detail we didn't think about.

So the movie has detail, what else? Depth of character. I am now a firm believer that all subplots can be removed and replaced with some simple dialog that gives the characters a ton more depth. We saw this in Leon and The Cell. Give a character two or three lines of dialog in the right scene with the right talent behind it and that character suddenly becomes alive. Give them an interesting but subtle tattoo or even a small bullet scar on the neck and it is even deeper. Almost every character in this movie has that level of detail, but it is James Caan's character who probably has the most. The interaction with the two main characters, Ryan Phillippe, is really a lot of fun. The characters have obviously been together so long that very few words ever need to be spoken to each other.

So there is a lot of nice little extras and some good characters, how's the story? Excellent. The big shoot out in the end really pays homage to the Wild Bunch - I think it is even the same set - and that helps out a lot. The harshness of the situation also works very well, with a girl almost doomed by all sides before she even had a chance at survival.

The DVD is a wonderful 1.85 to 1 transfer with a 16x9 enhanced picture and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The DVD includes a director's commentary and deleted scenes on top of the usual extras.

Way of the Gun is a modern western up there with Desperado that puts together the right elements and becomes a great movie. The attention to detail, the use of deep characters without resorting to tedious subplots, and a good harsh story come together to make an excellent film. Don't miss this one.