THE WAY OF THE GUN
by Alicia Potter
In his first foray as writer and director, Christopher McQuarrie revisits the
hyper-verbal depravity and alienated cool that won him a screenwriting Oscar
for 1995's The Usual Suspects. This time, two dirtbags (Ryan Phillippe
and Benicio Del Toro) kidnap a surrogate mother (Juliette Lewis), only to
discover that the fat cat paying for the baby (Scott Wilson) is as nefarious as
they come. In fact, it's impossible to trust -- or root for -- anyone in this
post-Tarantino, Western-inflected noir, and at first the snaky, near nihilistic
tale intrigues. McQuarrie wields an eye for detached absurdity (one scene
uniting shrimp and an ultrasound video is especially inspired), and he spikes
the requisite car chase with admirably fresh turns.
Yet forget about a Keyser Soze-esque sweetener: lacking the cerebral
satisfaction of Suspects, this overcooked experiment in violent realism
and anti-heroism lags into blood-soaked torpidity. By the time the inevitable,
if blisteringly staged, fusillade of bullets erupts, it's a relief to see the
bodies crumple. Finally, the end is near.
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