The Film: The Way Of The Gun (2000)
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The Director: Christopher McQuarrie
The Elder: Poor Bastard #4: Aging, grizzled triggerman Joe Sarno (James Caan) is headed for a bloody confrontation with a pair of ruthless young guns at, where else, a run-down Mexican whorehouse. Not the most original setting, but dude’s old school like that. For back up, he calls on a group of similarly elder gun thugs to man a shooting gallery that the punks obligingly hop right into.
The results are unfortunate for all parties, but particularly for our featured guest.
The Abuse: Early in what is incidentally one of the best gunfights of the last 20 years, this crotchety gent makes the mistake of exposing himself, and it’s his crotchetiest part that takes the loss. And if that (indescribably hilarious) pun was too subtle for some folks, rest assured that the movie is not subtle about the violent male menopause this man enters via the 12-gauge turnpike. If that’s still not clear enough, I’m saying that the man went in for a pump-action vasectomy at the Remington Clinic. Put plainly, he took some buckshot to the fuckspot. His bollocks got Pollock’d, is what I’m getting at here.
Now, some critics have taken issue with this shootout and this bloody pantsplosion in particular for it’s lack of realism. And sure, it would’ve been more medically accurate for his nethers to burst in a puff of fine grey powder tinged the odd fleck of dark, withered dream, but I can’t fault the decision to go with a traditional red squib and avoid the risk of confusing the less physiologically informed segments of the audience. Not everyone’s a biologist, after all.
Lack Of Respect By:
No shit, the little punk from Cruel Intentions. Talk about insult to injury. Although I believe it was the venerable Pauline Kael who said that Phillipe’s entire career was the metaphorical equivalent of shooting the Greatest Generation in the crotch , so why not go ahead and make it literal? Certainly not because blasting people in the junk isn’t awesome (see .gif). And it’s not like filmmakers are falling all over themselves to scratch this particular itch. Off the top of my head, the only other films that feature such a scene are a couple Tarantino flicks and the special Director’s Cut of The Monster Squad which may only exist when I’ve had six fingers of Maker’s and half a vicodin.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is fuck yeah, Ryan Phillipe. You’re my generation’s Cary Grant, and don’t let anyone ever tell you different.
Did He Have It Coming: Well, he did sign up for a gunfight at a whorehouse, not an architecture tour of downtown Indianapolis. I’m sure he was a nice guy and all but hey, buy the ticket, take the ride.
Could the AARP Have Helped? Not directly, since Mexico lies outside their stated jurisdiction. The best they could do would probably be a 15% discount on a pair of kevlar Depends (specially tailored for the infirm infantryman).
If nature had taken its course? It’s hard to say how long the geezer would’ve lasted back in Phoenix, but it’s not like if he’d held on til he was 78 he still would’ve died in a brothel hemorrhaging blood from multiple wounds to the pelvis.
Unless he would’ve, in which case holy shrieking shit, hombre lived like a MOTHERFUCKING CHAMPION. That’s the kind of character who really needs a prequel trilogy.
What Andy Rooney Might Say:
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I remember a time when you couldn’t shoot a senior citizen in the crotch on screen. In fact, you couldn’t shoot a man over 60 anywhere below the belt, or a woman over 50 at all, or a gun larger than a .410 at anything except a bird or a peanut butter sandwich (and you can bet your bottom nickel they wouldn’t have made that particular exception for anyone besides ol’ Chucky Chaplin). It was called the Hayes Code, after president Rutherford B. Hayes, who passed it into law in 1903. I was a little too young to vote in the aught five election, but I would’ve pulled the lever for old Ruthie twice if it meant we kept getting the classic, wholesome entertainments I grew up with, like Iron Flats, A Memory To Forget, or Nestle’s Tollhouse Presents The Spectacular Sambo!. That was stuff the whole family could enjoy. But then in 1979, the 29th Amendment repealed the Code, and you know the rest. In the years since, no film has won the Oscar for Best Picture that didn’t feature at least one severed testicle. These days when I see a preview that’s just Chia Lebuff swinging a hatchet at Betty White (in 3D!), I think back to how it used to be. I think of sitting down in a dark theater, pet hammer on my right and great-aunt Hertie on my left. I remember how excited I was to crack open my thermos of rock syrup and watch the latest Uncle Paplock serial unspool, and then I look around myself and wonder, is this really what Hertie fought the Turks for?