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  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras

    The Way of the Gun

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 114 mins . MA15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    I was blown away, as was everyone, by the genius of The Usual Suspects. Even now this film remains as a milestone in the twist ending and is still a point of reference for other films years after its film debut. The Way of the Gun was penned and directed by the man behind The Usual Suspects and he delivers a bloody free for all without so much as a sniff of a twist.

    Or does he?

    Perhaps avoided at the box office by its bloody-mindedness, here we deal with the issues regarding surrogate parenting and kidnap. Two violent, but small time, hoods (Ryan Phillippe and Benicio Del Toro) work their way cross country looking for their one big score. They find it by chance in Robin, a young mother carrying a rich couple’s baby. Kidnapping her in a hail of gunfire that leaves the streets awash with blood, the kidnappers soon realise they are in way over their heads as the expectant parents are big-time crimelords. And they want the baby at all costs because if they front with the 15 million-dollar ransom, their partners in crime will kill them.

    "Karma’s only justice without the satisfaction... I don’t believe in justice."

    Every so often and with practiced regularity, a fresh piece of information falls like a single drop of water creating a newer, subtler twist. So instead of the huge twist in the tail, this film is littered with smaller ones like bones on the desert floor. And each one changes everything we thought we knew as alliances shift back and forth.

    I won’t say more as this may spoil the ongoing surprises herein, but I will add that director/writer Christopher McQuarrie has drawn an intricate spiderwork of intersecting lives that culminates in the surprising conclusion. He has avoided the too tightly packed storyline; the one that sees ordinary people’s lives all intersecting so perfectly in a private universe. Here, everyone is a criminal after whatever they want for themselves. No unrelated stories all tied together neatly here; one single event drags everyone in and they all splash about struggling for breath and fighting to stay afloat. Many will perish and those who are saved may not be the ones you expect, but the film will keep you alert and your attention focused as the story unfolds in brutal fashion.

    Performances are all perfect, the carnage bloody but real and the direction tight and well played. It’s a surprising film and one that represents great value for anyone who enjoys a good old fashioned gunfight or nine. There’s also plenty of new swears to learn in this rather in your face beginning, but this sinks back to normal swear levels throughout. I feel like a sea tar now though and my mouth needs a good washing out.

      Video
    Contract

    A delicious transfer from the good folks at Buena Vista, with clean lines, sharp image and well-saturated colours throughout. There are various film artefacts throughout, but there’s nothing too offensive or disruptive. Flesh tones are natural enough, although one particular makeup job near the end is a little transparent (it’s on Ryan Phillippe if you’re curious).

    Blacks are true to life, while shadow detail fluctuates between good and not so good. Some of the night scenes are where we lose detail, but there’s probably nothing of great import to see there anyway. There are also but one or two teensy instances of grain on some interior darks, but again nothing disruptive. According to the case the aspect ratio here is 1.77:1 with 16:9 enhancement and it all looks fine. There are no real wide vistas to drink in, so there doesn’t seem a need for a huge aspect ratio anyway.

      Audio
    Contract

    Dolby Digital 5.1 brings the booming gunfire into the house, through the window and across the street to set off car alarms everywhere. The gunfire here is huge with the subwoofer backing it up all the way. Unfortunately the levels here are slightly out, with a lot of the dialogue sounding very far away or soft-spoken so that when you’ve nudged up the volume to hear it, suddenly guns are going off and making neighbourhood dogs bark 12 houses away.

    As noted, the dialogue gets rather blue from the outset, but this settles fairly quickly into regular crime film lingo (less offensive, but still common). The musical score by Joe Kraemer is well suited to the film, lending it that ‘south of the border’ feel as the fight heads through Arizona to Mexico. It also manages to lend an eloquent and dramatic flair to the film that gives it an almost lyrical dreaminess at times that is rather welcome.

      Extras
    Contract

    Sadly, there’s nothing in this bit. Even a director’s commentary would have been better than nothing, but I guess they were trying to keep the disc cheap and so, nup. Nothin’.

      Overall  
    Contract

    I was into this film. The story is convincing, if the tiniest bit sensationalised, while the acting is first rate. In particular I was impressed with Ryan Phillippe as one of the smalltime hoods and together he and Del Toro are entirely believable. Of curious note, the first assistant camera was none other than Mike Lookinland, who many will remember as the erstwhile Bobby Brady back in The Brady Bunch TV series.

    A great transfer and a great action/crime shoot ‘em up plus great performances and a great value price. Great really.


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      And I quote...
    "A drip-feed release of twists that change everything in this hard-arse shoot ‘em up from the writer of The Usual Suspects."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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