The Silent Majority

Bridging quality and accessibility.

The Way of the Gun

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The Way of the Gun

Great films, like true art, demand the audience’s engagement. Which makes The Way of the Gun unique, as it does something I have seen few films do: ignore the audience. That is not to say the film alienates its audience, but rather necessitates their undivided engagement to meet. McQuarrie (writer/director) allows the viewer to make the connections, and figure out who is who, and what is what. There is no exposition in the film. The characters know the score, and act accordingly. They don’t, however, pause, and recap events for the audience.

The set-up is simple: Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro) are two drifting criminals who kidnap a surrogate mother and demand a ransom from her wealthy employers. That’s the hook. The story is far more complex and you will need to pay close attention to appreciate it all.

The Way of the Gun is a subtle film made up of nuances. It begins without any kind of formal introduction and the audience is never told who is who, or what is what. What we learn of Parker and Longbaugh, the “protagonists,” is very little. There are no scenes where they reveal themselves to the audience. There is a silent understanding between them. They communicate with glances, and they don’t waste scenes telling the audience who they are. Though detached, the film plays itself out naturally, without talking down to some invisible viewer. Instead of engaging its audience, the film wants you to engage it.

The Way of the Gun also does a terrific job at avoiding genre conventions. For instance, there is a car chase in the film which is the antithesis of car chases; instead of relying on speed to make a getaway, Parker and Longbaugh implement strategy. The chase, involving two cars, barely makes it over 10 (exhilarating) m/ph. And speaking of exhilarating, The Way of the Gun features, for my pesos, one of the best shootouts ever captured on film. It is simply breathtaking.

The Way of the Gun, released in 2000, remains a masterpiece of the crime genre; a moody, atmospheric, and richly satisfying piece. Give yourself to The Way of the Gun, and it will love and caress you on those lonely nights.

Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

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Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in crime

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