Having written The Usual Suspects, Christopher McQuarrie’s directorial debut was always going to generate a lot of interest. It also, when it finally did arrive five years later, generated a lot of disappointment, not least for McQuarrie, who wouldn’t direct another film until Jack Reacher in 2012. Which, looking back from more than a decade later, seems a bit unfair. In Usual Suspects fashion The Way of the Gun delivers blood and twists with a noirish inflection, and takes a pair of good-looking, tooled-up desperadoes (Benicio Del Toro, Ryan Phillipe), dresses them up in Tarantino attitude and pitches them into a plot constructed like a maze. Thing starts fairly easy, as the two young guns botch the kidnapping of a young woman (Juliette Lewis), who is the surrogate mother of a milionaire’s foetus. Or is she? And is Mr Big (Scott Wilson) the real father anyway? And why exactly is Mr Big’s henchman (James Caan) taking such a personal interest in getting the young woman back? Taye Diggs and Nicky Katt add to the proliferation of characters, not all of whom have much to do except die, playing a pair of bodyguards also on the sniff. James Caan, as is so often the case, gets the best of the dialogue as McQuarrie whips a blood feud, blood money and blood ties into what he probably thinks is a soufflé in the shape of The Maltese Falcon. Does it stay up? It does not. But at exactly the point where the whole thing starts collapsing McQuarrie chucks in one of those big showdowns in Mexico and we’re treated to scenes of bloodletting that are almost medievally imaginative. You need satnav to find your way through The Way of the Gun but you can’t deny it has zing.
© Steve Morrissey 2013