Monday, September 20, 2010

Panic (2000)

Low-key hitman mid-life crisis film about an assassin who tenuously begins relationships with therapy and a young, volatile bisexual. This is not a huge budget film, but the actors make the dialogue and relationships sing; William H. Macy and Donald Sutherland, as the hitman and his gangster father, have a pitch-perfect dynamic, and the better parts of the film are concerned with their strained relationship, and Macy's repressed conscience. The therapy sessions, with John Ritter as the befuddled shrink, are not as provocative as similar setups in Grosse Point Blank or The Sopranos, but they have an effortless charm due to Macy's deadpan delivery and Ritter's constant discomfort toward his role as a sort-of accomplice to murder. Macy's home life, with Tracy Ullman as his wife and their grade school son, is well-presented as average, but warm, and several scenes with Macy relating to his son at his bedside achieve a surprising amount of poignance. However, the central love story, with a tick-filled, neurotic performance by Neve Campbell as a flighty 23-year old who is attracted to Macy, falls flat, is devoid of logic or chemistry, and does not have the maturity and oddball tone of the rest of the film; their banter is the kind of juvenile narcissism the rest of the dialogue would acknowledge only in jest. Luckily, the film is not as dependent on the romance angle as I worried it might have been, and the other relationships in the film are well-defined and presented enough that they balance out the missteps with Campbell's character.

Recommended for fans of Macy, Sutherland, or of similar hitman dramedies like Jerry & Tom or Analyze This. I remember this one premiering on cable (Cinemax I think) back in the day; while I see how this got swept under the rug in lieu of Analyze This and The Sopranos, it is breezy, yet distinctive enough to be worth seeking out.

No comments:

Post a Comment