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The Way of the Gun

By Ray Pride

SEPTEMBER 11, 2000: 

A sunny afternoon when I walked out of the stunning, flinty debut by "The Usual Suspects"' screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, who boldly, assuredly announces himself as a solid talent in his own right, drawing from classic auteurs such as Sam Peckinpah and John Sturges, but also from his own acid sensibility. I was thrilled, ready to go over my notes and savor the peculiar world of honor, dishonor, blood and family that erupted from the story of two taciturn criminals (Benicio Del Toro, Ryan Phillippe, both solidly on the money) who trip onto a notion that they turn into a kidnapping plot—snatching greatly pregnant womb-for-hire Juliette Lewis (also superb) from two bodyguards (Nicky Katt, Taye Diggs) who protect her on behalf of a rich client and his ice-goddess trophy wife, each with their own dirty deals. I flip through a couple of magazines at the newsstand—let's call them Premiere and Entertainment Weekly—and their reviewers had only one word for this keenly etched world of moral consequence: Tarantino. Well, a second word as well: derivative. Fuck them. While this dynamic duo think the world began in 1992, it did not, nor did movies. "The Way of the Gun" is a chill, yet blistering, little magnum opus of aggression and passive-aggressiveness, starting from its riotous, splenetic opening scene, which sets the terms of McQuarrie's strange planet—six or seven minutes of harsh yet comic aggro as startling as the entirety of "American History X," filled with inspired, raving invective and a willingness to throw and take punches that honors both characters and filmmakers. I want to write more about this one later. Maybe you'll have seen it by then.

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