The Way of the Gun is a taut well-made shoot-em-up film that ranks high up there among the likes of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Wild Bunch.
The movie is made in the style of Tarantino and Peckinpah, but the plot is labyrinthian and complex. Ultimately, however, it is predictable, since all the twists and turns tie back on themselves. Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio del Toro) are two career criminals who life live at its edge à la Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. About to make a donation to the sperm bank, they overhear a conversation involving Robin (Juliette Lewis) who is acting as a surrogate mother for a rich businessman Hale Chidduck (Scott Wilson) and his spoilt wife Francesca (Kristen Lehman). The two criminals figure they could kidnap Robin and her unborn child and demand a large ransom from Chidduck. But they have to contend with the likes of Jeffers (Taye Diggs), Obecks (Nicky Katt), and Joe Sarno (James Caan), cold-blooded killers who are in Chidduck's pay.
The best aspect of the film is that it doesn't take itself too seriously and manages to laugh at itself once in a while. The tongue-in-cheek dialogue is hilarious and insightful at times. Unlike most Hollywood movies today, the characters are all ambiguous. Sure, they're all a bunch of killers with few redeeming qualities, but yet in the end they have a sense of dignity about the the way they live and the way they die. Every character in the film has a motivation for doing what they do (which is why the plot becomes convoluted). These are revealed slowly through-out the film, and over time the two hard-nosed killers slowly come to empathise with Robin's plight, the one person who could be called a "victim of circumstance" in this story.
The acting is excellent. Ryan Phillippe, the one I would've pegged as the most unlikely to succeed in his role, does a terrific job. The other actors, including Benicio del Toro, Taye Diggs, Nicky Catt, and James Caan put in superb performances, clearly displaying the complex nature of the characters they're playing. Juliette Lewis, who has the hardest role trying to survive in a testosterone-dominated world, does an amazing job.
Director and writer Christopher McQuarrie has produced a gem of a film with The Way of the Gun. I highly recommend checking it out on the big screen.