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Movie Review

The Way of the Gun

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for strong violence/gore, language and some sexuality

Reviewed by: Matthias Shapiro

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
1 hr. 59 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Ryan Phillippe and Benicio Del Toro in “The Way of the Gun”
Featuring: Ryan Phillippe, Benicio Del Toro, James Caan, Juliette Lewis, Taye Diggs
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Producer: Kenneth Kokin
Distributor: Artisan Entertainment

Only one other time have I walked out of a theatre with such mixed feelings about a film. “The Way of the Gun” is a thinking film trying to masquerade as a hip, brazen over-the-top action film. It contains more than its share of violence and language. The sexual themes are not gratuitous but, be warned, they are present.

Poster for “The Way of the Gun”

“The Way of the Gun” is about two criminal buddies al a “Pulp Fiction” who decide that the only way to break out of the rut they’re in is to kidnap a pregnant woman and hold her and her unborn child for ransom. Trying to wade through this film to get at a plot that can be explained in a review is impossible. In the single sentence above there are more than a dozen other plot developments that need to be explained. For example, the baby that this girl is carrying is not hers. She has been hired to carry it by a wealthy man whose wife “can’t be bothered” to carry her own child. But does the child belong to them? And why can’t he go to the police about this? The twists in the film are almost endless; it is almost unbelievable the screenwriter/director found time to fit in any other dialogue.

Walking into this film, I thought it would be a thrill-a-minute dumb action-adventure. Not so. Every character in this film is smart and every character is thinking every second. As the protagonists drag themselves further and further over their heads, however, they don’t scream at each other about messing up. Instead they become more and more concerned about the unborn child that this young girl is carrying. After “The Cider House Rules” taught us how “wonderfully humane” abortion is, this film comes along and shows us the face inside the womb. There is actually a scene (one of the most powerful in the film) in which a woman is caressing the ultra-sound image of her unborn child. The kidnappers struggle with the question of family, of God, of money vs. the right thing.

Despite the violence and language in this film, the overall theme was powerfully refreshing in an age of unborn holocaust. This film contains graphic violence. It contains some fairly heavy sexual themes (although no sex act is shown on screen). The language is simply rancid (over 50 “f” words). This is not a film for children and if you’re thinking about a date night, better forget it. However, it is a well made, exciting and thought provoking movie.

Viewer Comments
Movie Critics
…all the makings of a cult hit, with its unrepentant violence, its very black humor, its great performances, its severity, its so-close-to-NC-17 brazenness, its Tarantinoesque irony…
Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
…characters don’t shy away from discussing such topics as the existence of God and the concept of redemption…
Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…more than 50 “f” words…
…an exceptionally violent movie with a very gory childbirth scene and lots and lots of gunfire…
Nell Minow, The Movie Mom
…everybody is so equally despicable, we don’t care who lives and who dies…
Ed Scharf,
…Unfortunately, “Reservoir Dogs” already exists, which makes “Way of the Gun”—asides from being very dull—simply irrelevant…
Ian Grey, Baltimore City Paper