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3 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Panic (2001)
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by EricDSnider

"William H. Macy shines in an otherwise so-so film."
4 stars

Most promotional posters for "Panic" have a gun on them, and the film opens with that dread-filled suspense music we're accustomed to. Then a voice says, "You ever get the feeling you're dead?"

So begins "Panic," a noirish drama from writer/director Henry Bromell. The voice belongs to Alex (William H. Macy), and he's talking to his therapist, Josh (John Ritter). Alex is going through an unusual midlife crisis: He kills people for a living, under the employ of his father (Donald Sutherland), and he'd like out of the family business now, if you don't mind.

He has a wife, Martha (Tracey Ullman, in a rare non-comedic role), from whom he is growing increasingly distant. ("Are you getting enough sex from Martha?" asks his imperious mother, played by Barbara Bain.) He also has a smart 6-year-old son named Sammy (David Dorfman), with whom he has late-night chats about infinity, death and the music of Beck.

Alex loves his family but has become fascinated with Sarah (Neve Campbell), a quasi-lesbian whom he met in the therapist's waiting room. He's not sure what he wants from her at first, though an affair seems in order.

While Alex is in the midst of figuring out how to get out of Dad's business and how to secure a liaison with Sarah, Dad gives him a new assignment. The target? Josh the therapist. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Macy is perfect at the sad, weary men he usually plays now. His eyes, as Sarah points out, really do convey a lot of sadness, but they're not bitter. They've just seen too much of the world, and they're tired. One look at those eyes, and one is bound to feel sympathetic for Macy, whoever he's playing.

Bromell's dialogue often strives for the hip triviality of Mamet or Tarantino, but usually comes off more as a slightly sophisticated USA Network offering. He also straddles a little too uncomfortably the line between crime noir and suburban drama. Is this a movie about a hitman who wants out, or a man finding his place in his family? I'm not saying a movie can't be both, but this one is not entirely effective at either.

It is, however, an interesting film, and it occasionally breaks out with some sharp moments. Its strict sense of morality is thought-provoking; plus, it has a kid who listens to Beck, so it can't be all bad.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2014&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/15/01 19:24:16
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User Comments

2/13/10 Mikey Mike Dull dull dull 2 stars
8/30/06 Indrid Cold Well made, surprisingly good cinematography. Story is bland and hackneyed though. 4 stars
7/10/03 malcolm (GASP) something original from hollywood! i don't believe it. sutherland was great as usual 5 stars
5/11/03 Jack Bourbon Fun but phony. 3 stars
10/04/02 ryan phillippe gets hit by a car and it rules Everyone in this was at the top of their game, an amazing script, beautifully put together. 5 stars
6/30/02 The Bomb 69 well made, loses a star for the ending 4 stars
4/10/02 dudeLab What was the ending? Does he die? Someone told me he did and that the end was just imagined 4 stars
3/01/02 Alan Smithee A great film with superb performances. Neve Campbell has never looked better. 5 stars
2/22/02 Beyonder A mature and intelligent film served by very good comedians 4 stars
12/16/01 Don Snyder Excellent: ing, A Gem, A Pleasure to Watch 5 stars
10/15/01 lukas worth a look 4 stars
10/14/01 seldom scene an American Beauty wanna be, not bad yet slightly predictable 4 stars
8/13/01 Monday Morning The ending was truly predictable, and the rest was just boring. 3 stars
7/05/01 Mike Leskow Well acted flick with an interesting plot. Ending was predictable. 4 stars
6/11/01 MJA Great characters, good writing and cinematography 4 stars
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  12-Jan-2001 (R)



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