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Men With Guns (Movie Post)

From the DVD: Best friends Eddie Goldman (Donal Logue) and Richard Lucas (Gregory Sporleder) are small time hustlers hired to pick up payment from a seedy strip club owner when they unexpectedly land in a set-up. Humiliated at gunpoint and brutally beaten by a group of drug dealers, Goldman and Lucas make a pact to exact revenge. With the help of John Mamet (Callum Keith Rennie) a friend with good connections, Goldman and Lucas meet Easy Gary (Max Perlich), a philosophical gun dealer who helps them choose their weapons. Now armed for vengeance, Goldman and Lucas set out for war.

The IMDB page: Men With Guns (1997)

Directed by Kari Skogland, written by Australian actor Lachy Hulme. Donal Logue was co-executive producer on the project.

Kari Skogland's credits include writing/directing the elusive short film Nature Boy (co-starring Callum), and Liberty Stands Still. She has also directed episodes of Traders, and Queer As Folk (USA). She used to direct commercials and music videos before turning her attention to TV and film. She has been nominated for and won numerous awards for her work.

Cast / Characters:

Donal Logue
Gregory Sporleder
Callum Keith Rennie
Paul Sorvino
Max Perlich
Joesph Griffin
Derek Ritschel
Bill MacDonald
Janet Kidder
Sabrina Grdevich

Horace Burke
Easy Gary
Mickey Burke
Kevin Janey
Becker (as William MacDonald)

Year: 1997

Runtime: 90 min

Country: Canada

IMDB rating: 5.4/10 (with 141 votes)

Genre: Action | Crime | Drama

Keywords: Nudity | Murder | Blood Bath | Bloody Violence | Blood | Cocaine | Crime Lord | Debt | Diet Obsession | Drug Dealing | Farm | Father Son Relationship | Gun Trader | Hygeine Obsession | Loser | Mobster | Neo Noir | Police Officer | Sexual Humiliation | Stoned | Violence | Independent Film



There are only two user comments, both of which single Callum out for praise.

One example:
"Men With Guns opens with two twenty-something guys sitting around discussing the times in their life when they were humiliated. Gregory Sporleder, Lucas, relates the time when he was forced to hold a guys coat every gym class or risk getting beaten up. Donal Logue, as Eddie, listens intensely, "I thought that was your coat... why didn't you tell me? Ah man, I got your back! You know that!"

This powerful opening stands out more than anything else that happens in this film. It concerns two friends, Eddie and Lucas, who go out to a farm to retrieve some money for a local club owner. When they arrive, they are brutally attacked by a group of thugs. The incident doesn't sit well with Eddie and Lucas. They decide to put a scare into the men who attacked them. They manage to recruit one of their friends, Mamet, played by Callum Keith Rennie. Mamet is a well meaning sort but his mind-set appears suspended somewhere out above the clouds.

The revenge plan goes horribly awry. Eddie and Lucas find themselves sitting in a room with three corpses and a whole lot of money and cocaine. At this point the film seems to get lost. It really doesn't know what to do or where to go. We watch as our three simpleton heroes party away the cocaine and money.

A problem arises when it becomes evident that the cocaine and money actually belong to a local mob boss played by Paul Sorvino. Sorvino and his laughable cronies begin a man-hunt for the three. Without trying to give anything away, the film becomes a little tedious and manages to immerse itself in a bloodbath. A needless one.

Where the film gets lost in its story it finds solace in its actors and characters. Callum Keith Rennie, a truly amazing Canadian actor, offers a haunting performance as a man whose subtle eccentricities begin to give light to his absolute insanity. Also watch for Easy Gary played by Max Perlich. His character is one of the most interesting that I've seen in a film in a long time."

Both comments can be found here.

Callum Quotient: 25%


  • Mamet: (whispers) My friends wanna buy some protection.
    Easy Gary: What are you whispering for? Want some condoms?
    Mamet: No. Guns.
    Easy Gary: You're not one of those serial killers are you?
    Mamet: No. Do I look like a serial killer?
    Easy Gary: Yes.

  • Easy Gary: This gun has forgotten more than you'll ever love.

  • Mamet: You know what I love? I love a car that's a convertible and, and, and you drive in the winter but you keep the heat on the whole time so your feet, your feet get really warm, but your, the top of your head is always cold. I like that... that kind of weird uh... what's it called... um... (getting strange looks from Richie) thing! What is it...
    Richie: Stay alert, soldier.
    Mamet: Do you think we brought enough beer?

  • Mamet: The leaves heard 'em.
    Eddie: What?
    Mamet: You know? In Vietnam.
    Eddie: What the fuck are you talking about you fucking space cadet?!
    Mamet: (starts to laugh) We underestimated the jungle.

  • Eddie: How do we get in this fucking place?
    Mamet: Use the fucking door!

  • Callum wears his clearly visible Headstones ring for the duration of the film. ♥

  • For anyone keeping a C6D scorecard: Bill MacDonald and Joseph Griffin were in Due South. Griffin also appeared in the La Femme Nikita episode Choice, well known to Callum fans as one of his two 'Gray Wellman' episodes. Billy Otis (one of the drug dealers) was also in Due South. Joe Pingue (the bouncer from the club) has also been in Due South and Twitch City. Let's not forget the brief appearances of Fraser's landlord Dominic Cuzzocrea and blind Lew Sam Malkin. \o/

  • For the cocaine-snorting scenes, the actors were using a cornstarch mix. Director Kari Skogland wasn't sure if it got anyone high, but she said they were all pretty funny during the next few takes.

  • The film was only Skogland's second movie, and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1997 alongside the Spanish 'Men With Guns' by John Sayle. The two films are not related.

Interesting scenes:

  • Mamet's first meeting with Easy Gary.

  • Mamet sitting on the roof of the car trying to use his gun as a bong while Eddie and Richie let off fireworks and shoot their guns in the background.

  • The Shadow Dance.

  • The party at the house. (But this might only be interesting for Mamet dancing with Eddie and then smashing up the kitchen with a baseball bat. /warning)

  • The mob guys chasing Richie along the dock. Hey! Their car is a Buick Riviera! \o/

  • Um, pretty much every other scene where Mamet shows up.

Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?
Poll #1242820 Men With Guns


Awesome! Thrilling! Fantastique!
It's good and I enjoyed it.
It's okay. There are worse movies out there. Honest!
I only ever watched Mamet's scenes. I can't possibly answer this question.
I stuck it out to the bitter end... then wanted to spork my eyes out.


None. It's hands-holding-skipping-through-the-daisies fluff fest in here.
Some mild nastiness. I can take it.
A couple of scenes are quite brutal.
Is all this violence really necessary? *sheilds eyes*
Shootings, beatings, blood splatter everywhere...


I think I broke something I was laughing so hard.
Mob guy sucking on helium balloon! Comedy gold!
I smiled a couple of times.
It might make you laugh for all the wrong reasons.
It's too bleak for any of this humour business.

Sexual Content

What sexual content?
Strippers, implied blow jobs, a not very pretty sex scene...
... none of this involves Callum.
But that's okay because he is topless for a moment.
Closeups of Callum count as sexual content anyway, right?

Sexual Violence

None at all.
If making two men do things while being held at gunpoint counts...
Some badness goes down.
Too much. Way too much!



He's the hero of this whole mess.
He's a good guy. Smart too.
His heart is in the right place even if his head is elsewhere.
He probably spat on those popsicles before he gave them to Easy Gary's kid.
His ticket to hell is definitely booked.

How many people does he kill?

No one at all.
Two, but he didn't really want to. Peer pressure!
Whatcha doin' with that puppy there, Mamet? Mamet?!!!
Three. Maybe four? It could have been worse... Oh wait. /o\
He might get a prize when he hits 100.


He is perfectly sane.
He's mostly normal. Though he does need drugs to get through the day.
He seems to have a lot of bad days. Poor guy needs help.
I wouldn't leave him alone with any sharp objects.
He's a space cadet and he bought a gun? Call 911!


So hot he should come with a warning label. *combusts*
Beautiful hands. Long eyelashes. Long looooong legs... need I say more?
Oh my god he's pretty.
He's okay. I guess.
He doesn't really pull my trigger.


He's the only one who doesn't get a girl. Just saying.
He's probably had some flirtations in his time. He danced with Eddie after all. *winkwink*
It's really hard to tell.
With his mind-set, I'm not sure he knows which way he swings.
Absolutely not.

Does he die?
You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Well, then. (highlight to read)

::Yes he does. :( ::


Crazy Salad of Celebs

Toronto Sun
Monday, September 8, 1997

IS THAT A GUN IN YOUR POCKET?: Of the two Men With Guns at the film fest, "we're the Canadian one," pointed out eight-months pregnant director Kari Skogland (as opposed to the other MWG, directed by John Sayles). The only queasiness the mom-to-be was feeling yesterday was guilt over putting her Guns boys (including Callum Keith Rennie) through a gooey cocaine-snorting scene when they shot the film last summer.

"We used this fake stuff made with cornstarch and I had them snort volumes of it," explains Skogland. "They were cornstarched out of their minds. I don't know if you can get a high off it, but in the next scene we shot, the guys were pretty funny."

New Due South hearththrob Rennie, who performs a "spiritual gun dance of epiphanies" in Guns, says the only thing he's reeling from is the shock of having a steady, adult-like job after years of on-location, free spirited globetrotting. "It's my first real job," he says of the series, "it's the longest I've ever held a job."

From here. (scroll down)

Wednesday, September 10, 1997

THESE GUNS FOR HIRE: The Polygram party at the Rosewater Supper Club fed the likes of Molly Parker (Kissed) and songstress Nana Mouskouri.

And in a delicious shoot-out of sorts, it finally united the two Men With Guns, John Sayles (director of the Spanish MWG at the fest), and Callum Keith Rennie (who stars in the Canadian MWG). Comparing their respective Guns, we find that it's not the name of the film that counts -- it's who is smart enough to choose the better 'Man.'

"I hear our screenings are on the same day, too," Sayles chuckled to Rennie, as the two shook hands firmly.

"Yeah," Rennie smiled.

"We were gonna call ours Independence Day," Sayles joked. "I guess we should have ..."

"We were gonna call ours Young Men With Guns," Rennie laughed.

"Well, at least people won't get confused in the theatre," Sayles said. "Yours is in English, and mine has subtitles."

From here. (scroll down)

A Woman Takes On Men With Guns

By Peter Howell
Toronto Star Movie Critic
January 22nd, 1999

Despite its macho title, Men With Guns raises the question: Is there a uniquely female perspective on male violence?

Although written by a man, Lachy Hulme, and with all major roles played by men, this brutal Canadian film (not to be confused with John Sayles' movie of the same name) is directed by a woman, Toronto's Kari Skogland.

Her hand-held camera moves with the same fidgety pace as the eyes of her hunted and haunted characters. Her frequent use of slow-motion forces the viewer to consider the mayhem on screen. The artful visuals reflect Skogland's previous work as a film editor and director of TV commercials and rock videos. She's also made a feature film before, the little-seen 1997 comedy The Size Of Watermelons.

But Skogland, who was pregnant while filming this in 1996, also seems to be commenting on the mindless horror of the violent little men before her lens, and in ways current male directors avoid. Not for her the ironic detachment of Quentin Tarantino or his many disciples, although she is tempted - a mobster played by Paul Sorvino is a Reservoir Dogs clone, a little too vocally interested in the importance of having a good breakfast. Skogland doesn't flinch from showing violence, but neither does she glamourize it. On the contrary, Men With Guns subtly equates violence with impotence: the more the men draw their weapons, the more pathetic they seem.

The movie stares red-eyed into faces of greed and desperation, faces that belong to small-time hoods Eddie (Donal Logue) and Richard (Gregory Sporleder). Eddie and Richard enter the picture shaking down a strip-club owner who owes them money. The owner, who thinks faster than either the jumpy Eddie or the timid Richard, tells them their money is at a remote farmhouse.

It's a set-up.

The hapless pair are beaten and humiliated by thugs, who send them packing without payment. The two vow to exact revenge. They enlist the aid of a junkie friend, Mamet (Callum Keith Rennie), who puts them onto Easy Gary (Max Perlich), a philosophizing gun dealer who sells them the "protection" they need for their next farmhouse encounter.

"This gun has forgotten more than you'll ever love," Easy Gary tells his customers, stroking a fearsome weapon that hardly needs commentary for its phallic implications. Eddie and Richard intend to just frighten their assailants. But even though Eddie has "perseverance" tattooed on his beefy forearm, he's impetuous and dangerous, a hair trigger at the end of a sweaty finger.

Guns roar, blood flows, and a large stash of cocaine is discovered, a stash that belongs to mobster Horace Burke (Sorvino).

From this point, Men With Guns becomes pretty much the standard story of losers on the lam from other crooks and the law - except for the humanity that

Skogland and her actors bring to it. The desperation of Eddie and Richard is palpable, and their friendship is real and affecting. We care about these two by the time the movie ends, and that's remarkable given what we've seen them do.

Would a male director make a movie like this? It's hard to say, but certainly not the multitudes who view death as sport and guns as toys, which Skogland certainly doesn't.

From here via WayBackMachine.



c_regalis made an excellent 6 part (and spoilery) picspam with commentary:
part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6

scriggle also has picspam here, here and here.


brigantine wrote Out From Under, a Due South/Men With Guns story. (Fraser/Ray K)

jcjoeyfreak wrote Hit, a Hard Core Logo/Men With Guns fic. (Joe/Mamet)

ETA: Thanks to brooklinegirl for pointing out soundslikej's More Than You'll Ever Love.

(Any other links to add please feel free to let me know)


The movie is available from the usual outlets: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk

Amazon UK also lists a PAL VHS copy here.

My thoughts:

A story that gets a bit lost along the way can sometimes be forgiven if the characters are strong and likeable enough. This is part of the problem with Men With Guns: Eddie and Richie do not invoke any sympathy at all. I have tried to like them, believe me. The plot is simple enough and it has a promising start, but then it confuses itself and forgets what it was trying to do in the first place. Some scenes are also quite brutal, and some make you squirm uncomfortably. Donal Logue peeing outside the farmhouse? Didn't need to see that, thank you very much.

Moving on to Mamet. Softly spoken mysterious Mamet. He first appears outside a cafe nervously pacing the pavement before popping some pills - a little courage before going inside to meet Easy Gary to arrange buying some guns for his friends. Mamet seems to be in another world most of the time; the drugs he is addicted to skew his mind-set a little, yet he is so much more intelligent than Eddie or Richie. Why did he end up with these two losers in the first place? We will never know.

Callum takes Mamet and makes him a vulnerable, playful figure who is subtle with his smarts. As Mamet starts to unravel he is all the more fascinating and heartbreaking to watch. He's one of my favourite characters though he doesn't get much screen time, which is a shame. The movie might end up a bit of a muddled affair but Mamet makes it more bearable. His is definitely a performance worth checking out.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2008 07:38 am (UTC)
Mamet rules the crazy folk!
Looks like no one else posted yet. Maybe I hit the refresh button for this page too much...Nah. anyway, so excited! I bought this movie and HCL together as my first CKR purchase. I've also edited the movie so I can watch the whole thing with only his scenes :D And did you know the cafe he does his hand porn in was in Boondock Saints? It's so funny because everyone in the movie keeps saying how it's in Boston, the Boston Lakeview Lunch and I'm sitting there screaming. "It's in Toronto you fools! Look, there's where Mamet taps the coat rack bar with his pretty ring!!!"
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Re: Mamet rules the crazy folk!
Good choice for first purchases. :D I didn't know that about the cafe but then I've not seen Boondock Saints, so... I should look into that. *g*
Aug. 16th, 2008 09:54 am (UTC)
yay great write-up of a weird-ass film!

Fic: soundslikej wrote More Than You'll Ever Love.
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)

And thanks for the link. *goes off to edit*
Aug. 16th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
Great write-up! Yay! :-)
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
Thanks! I ♥ Mamet. :)
Aug. 16th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
My love for this movie is well-known and about as well-adjusted as Mamet, so I've been waiting for this post. *g*

I did want to add that soundslikej wrote Mamet fic a couple of years ago for me. It's on the Yuletide archive, at http://yuletidetreasure.org/archive/22/morethan.html.

And I think there's more fic floating around; I'll see if I can get together the links.

eta: Whoops. Looks like BLG beat me to the link; still, the story bears mentioning more than once, I think.

Edited at 2008-08-16 01:49 pm (UTC)
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)

I thought there would have to be more Mamet fic out there somewhere. I mean, it's MAMET! My google-fu, she is broken it seems. *hangs head*

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to link. :) I just read it and.... Wow.
Aug. 16th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Callum takes Mamet and makes him a vulnerable, playful figure who is subtle with his smarts. As Mamet starts to unravel he is all the more fascinating and heartbreaking to watch...The movie might end up a bit of a muddled affair but Mamet makes it more bearable.

Wow, really well said. And great post! Thank you!

My two favorite scenes (aside from the nakedness and dancing, which seem to hit me right in my brain stem) are

1) Where Mamet sits, counting the bags, as Eddie and Richie bounce off the walls, behind him. (Your cap, above.) That seems to be a place that CKR likes to live, on screen. The stillness, the waiting, the stuff that makes you wonder who his character is. I see it so often that it has to be him, as much as the director.

2) His last scene. As he leans back against the wall, and before he starts smiling and laughing, there's one shot where the look on his face tells his story. IMO, it's the only time in the film where we get to see right into his pain. It makes the performance for me, and it sets up the conclusion for his character.

Oh, and Mamet, on the floor, with his head sticking into the hallway, counting down: 3, 2, 1...smile. Damn, that's cute. :-)
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
(I love the shadow dance so much, though it can be difficult to watch as interjected with...well. You know.)

His last scene: that is exactly it. I agree with you there. :) Of course, I'd like the conclusion to be different but... *sigh*
Aug. 16th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
Mamet and the dog. Mamet shadow dancing. Mamet waking up. *sigh* I love every scene with Mamet. One of my favourite performances by Callum.

Fantastic post! Thank you!
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
If this movie was just all about Mamet, it would have been so much better. *is maybe a wee bit biased* ;) But yes! All those great scenes, and definitely one of Callum's better - if too short - roles. *nods*

Aug. 16th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Watching this movie or thinking of it kinda makes my stomach churn - I probably soldiered through it only for Callum. Not bad, but not exactly my kind of thing. But Callum's performance is stunning - as you illustrated in the selected interesting scenes, including pretty much every other scene where Mamet shows up!

Thanks for a great post!
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
I watched it many times for this post (and before that, obviously, though I was more inclined to stick to just the CKR-parts after that first viewing. *g*), it gets a little easier. Though not by much. *shudders* I should have suggested fast-forward until you see Callum. Hee!

You're welcome! :)
Aug. 17th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
revenge. With the help of John Mamet (Callum Keith Rennie)...

Mamet is his last name? I never noticed, heh.

Kari Skogland's credits include writing/directing the elusive short film Nature Boy

I want this one. Why can't I have it? Why don't they just give it to me? It's just MEAN, that's what it is.

And hi, nice picture you choose there. And only 6 of them. I am proud of you!

Re: interesting scenes. The weird thing is, pretty much all the scenes are interesting. Like, as a stand-alone. I actually think that this is one of the problems of this film. Ahem.

The desperation of Eddie and Richard is palpable, and their friendship is real and affecting. We care about these two by the time the movie ends, and that's remarkable given what we've seen them do.

Well. I agree about the first sentence? The second one though... hm.

This is part of the problem with Men With Guns: Eddie and Richie do not invoke any sympathy at all. I have tried to like them, believe me.

Ha! I KNOW. I tried too. I really, really tried. Repeatedly. *sigh*

ANYway! Awesome post! ♥
Aug. 18th, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)
Mamet is his last name?

Apparently so. Though I don't think they ever mention or refer to him as 'John' at any point in the film, so I wonder how they came to this conclusion. *g*

I hope Nature Boy surfaces at some point, too. I'm beginning to wonder if it's even real. Heh

Ohh, I stared at a lot of pictures of Mamet for this post, it was very hard to keep it simple (though I was sneaky with the poster at the end there, I couldn't leave that shot out. Hee.)

Yeah, that article... I don't know. Maybe the writer was watching something else. *g*

Aug. 21st, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
'Kay, I really need to watch this comm. a lot more closely. I keep missing stuff. *kicks self*

You picked one of my absolute favorite caps, the Woobie!Mamet picture of him curled up asleep on Eddie's bed. *pets and pets*

Callum's Mamet is so... *flails* The way he created that character drew me to this film way more than the film as a whole deserved. Most of Mamet's dialog is cryptic at best, but Callum's body language for that character is just riveting.

Mamet has these sudden moments of clarity, this intense focus when you know by the expression on his face that he's awake, and he knows things.

Then there's the bloodbath at the warehouse when he suddenly drops that usual sleepy, dreamy demeanor and flies up onto the desk and sticks, like a gymnast, and we have to wonder, who is this guy? Who was he before he fried his brain, and is that why he did it?

I love Callum for giving him that. And it really annoyed me that we never got to find out. :P
Aug. 23rd, 2008 08:49 am (UTC)
*hearts Woobie!Mamet*

when he suddenly drops that usual sleepy, dreamy demeanor and flies up onto the desk and sticks, like a gymnast

Oooh! Long legs aside, (and boy were they distracting) it's also fascinating to me that he never looked when he was firing those shots. *sigh* many missed opportunities with this film.

Fangirls should write scripts for Callum, I'm telling you. *g*
Aug. 30th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Wow, I just noticed your comment. I completely agree with you! Really well put. CKR's physical performances always just kill me, and this one is no different. But you really put your finger on it --- the depth and history suggested by those little things.

Oh, and guuuuh, him curled up with his arms inside his shirt like that. Master of the details...
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
AWESOME post! the film is so frustrating to me (as i see it is for LOTS of folks). it's got a great performance from CKR, but the rest defies logic and SYMPATHY. really, i'd SO watch the movie mamet is in, since it's clearly a different one than the movie the rest of the completely unlikeable characters are blundering around making.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
Thank you! :D

It is very frustrating; they focus on those other guys when clearly Mamet is the most interesting of the bunch. As I said to CV, if this movie was all about Mamet? So much better! But I guess we can't have everything... /o\
Oct. 19th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
Very nice post.

I always want to snuggle up to him when he is lying there all curled up in his sweater. :D
Feb. 12th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
Awesome write-up. I admit that the only reason I rented the movie was for CKR. And he didn't disappoint.
Jun. 25th, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for this writeup. :)

I just finished watching the film, and what bothers me the most is, CKR's Mamet is pretty much the ONLY reason I could stand to watch it at all, and yet, the whole way through, I'm thinking, "Mamet has no function in this movie at all". It feels like he was written in JUST to make the movie interesting. Everything that he does, plotwise, could have been skipped over using the other available characters/actors. So I'm of two minds where CKR in this movie is concerned -- glad he was in it but half-way wishing he wasn't so that I wouldn't have to watch a crappy movie in the first place. ;)

All that said, I adore Mamet and his dancing and his rings and his awesome pimp jacket. Thanks again for the post!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )



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