Thursday Night Movie Club
The Watcher
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Release Date: September 8, 2000

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Ryan Phillippe
Benicio Del Toro
James Caan
Juliette Lewis
Taye Diggs
Nicky Katt
Scott Wilson
Dylan Kussman
Kristin Lehman
Geoffrey Lewis
Joe Sarno
Hale Chidduck
Dr. Allen Painter
Francesca Chidduck
Way of the Gun movie poster
The Way of the Gun graphic

Ok...and you would have to be born yesterday (or shortly there before) to not be aware of this. The main characters in "The Way of the Gun" are references to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie by George Roy Hill. Of course, you would have to know something about movies to know that there is any significance to the names. "What is the significance" you ask? I think it was done so that college students can write their thesis based on this film. That is a joke and I am not going to worry about the answer in this review.

Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro - "Licence to Kill") and Parker (Ryan Phillippe - "I Know What You Did Last Summer") are a couple of misfits who have spent too much time in search of a living. Parker narrates the opening sequence of the pair aimlessly working their way across the American Southwest. The pair decide to abandon their meager day-to-day existence in favor of "the fortune that is out there waiting for them." To fix their broken car, Parker and Longbaugh wind up at a sperm bank to make a donation. In one of the funniest yet chilling sequences of the film (but also brilliantly depicted by director Christopher McQuarrie, the writer of "Usual Suspects"), Parker and Longbaugh answer questions regarding their suitability as hosts with some of the most unique perspectives on life. This is a brilliant technique to learn a lot of detail about the characters in the shortest amount of time.

While waiting to make their donation, they over hear a telephone conversation involving a rich, pregnant woman who has a scheduled doctor's appointment. In another brilliant, yet little used movie technique, McQuarrie uses the "you don't have to cross all the "i's" and dot all the "t's" (author's note: i did that on purpose). Parker and Longbaugh are able to plot and execute their kidnap scheme in spite of the fact that their first attempt goes horribly/tragically wrong. What is important in this sequence is learning that the two criminals are working very closely as one unit. The audience has no input onto the two's past and how they came together. What is important and fun to watch is their teamwork.

Followed by a witty escape scene by Parker and Longbaugh, the plot thickens with the introduction of the cast of characters that each have a secret agenda in the film. We meet the expectant family. Mr. Chiddick (Scott Wilson) is the proud father to be that will finally have an heir. Robin (Juliette Lewis) is a surrogate mother carrying the fetus to term. She is 8 and 9/10ths along in the pregnancy, due in about 10 days. The body guards, Jeffers and Obecks, have been hired by Chiddick to protect Robin 24 hours a day during the 9 months. Joe Sarno (James Caan, great as usual) is the unknown strength behind the Chiddick empire. There are several very obvious references to organized crime (for those who are new to this) and Sarno is the "bag man" that works behing the scenes as a "problem eliminator" (I stole that from "Licence to Kill").

The middle section of the movie will probably be boring to many. I found this to be the most fascinating part of the movie as all of the hidden agendas of the secondary characters is slowly revealed. Of course, it wouldn't be "film noir" without the agendas and allegiences constantly changing as the characters gradually come together for the final resolution.

To explain all of the subtle nuances and plot twists any further would not do the film justice. I really enjoyed the several plot twists and how the characters constantly updated their personal agendas/plot sheming as the movie went along. What will probably be the "downfall" of this movie, from the viewer's perspective, is the fact that everything is not resolved at the end. Many viewers will find this disconcerting and frustrating. Fortunately for me, I have "Chicago Jake" to discuss the movie with.

Two elements of special note for this movie: Geoffrey Lewis, who is on the list of "Thursday Night Movie Club Icons" (see Jake's page/above...mine to come) and Parker (Phillippe) diving into the fountain in Mexico to retrieve the ransom money.

The shot of the movie is the "diving into the fountain".