Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Panic" (2000) - Movie Review

The curious case of a hit man is an apparent attraction for writers and directors. The mind inside that ice cold mercenaries and the cleanliness they keep in their profession is dozen too many in the world of television and film. Some succeeds and others, go their own ways into making it as a glorified career opportunity. In “Panic”, it is a tool for a story. And the story is of Alex (William H. Macy), a man taking up his family business with an up close training from his dad Michael (Donald Sutherland).

Sons and daughters are an extension of a parent. For women it is literal but for men, how it does makes them reach out unconditionally and see something more than themselves? In the next trend of news hearings from my friends, this is the phase in their life for offsprings. I have heard the happiness but to feel and see it is different. You see a side of somebody you thought to have a thorough understanding springs up. In the best possible way is what I might add. You see the best part in them. Alex sees in his son Sammy (David Dorfman) and Michael does see it in Alex, in the way not much can be attributed towards kinship.

Michael and Alex’s mother Deidre (Barbara Bain) run the business of killing. Alex has been a faithful employer and keep up his Joe routine for so long with his wife Martha (Tracey Ullman). Written and directed by Henry Bromell, “Panic” is a writer’s film. It cuts through the chase and narrates what it is going to do and does it unexpectedly. One such is the character of Sarah (Neve Campbell) a young stereotypically liberal and out of norm girl. Herself and Alex spend ounces of time every week when they wait for their respective therapists. Alex feels special and Sarah feels the same. Both of them acknowledge the cliche of this situation and do this dancing on the disaster. That is the extent of the thrill you might get in this film. Not the killings.

Bromell does things right and first being not dedicating excruciating hours on the detail, finesse the protagonist is in his job. Nor does he digs in the therapy sessions he has with his shrink (John Ritter). He has been nurtured into this and he has accepted it with the scare tactics of his dad. We have been considerably educated in those arena and Bromell says lets get to the business.

It feels like watching “American Beauty” on another set of eyes in a situation of its own. The dysfunction is not always funny and shakes the characters up. Alex is the typical bottled up submissive guy which William H. Macy plays with a passion. He is not in control with his parents while does not make it appear in front of his wife. He is without inhibition with his son Sammy and the young boy David Dorfman gives a kid we have not seen. He talks more than his age but maintains the cuteness. We are not alarmed by his questions but are wondering what a great man he might become. The scenes with him and William H. Macy are the best fatherhood sequences I have seen in a while.

Bromell moves these characters with snippets of details to explain who were they. A simple reference of Martha’s coke habit before Sammy was born, a quick flashback of how she met Alex, the extent of powerful control freaks in Michael and Deidre and how Alex’s therapist contacts local police for a situation and feels bad about it. All these not alone tell some information but has an integrity to the characters each one are. Bromell makes them work and fulfills an unknown obligation of explaining the characters in detail to the audience.

“Panic” is a simply told complex people story. The truth is every body is complex. If you go ahead thinking that is not true after reading that line and say that you have a regular boring life and it cannot be more simpler than plotting the daily life of yourself but think harder, despite that there is this constant cycle of thought process which unwillingly questions and wanders without answers in agony to do things uncontrollably. You know what I am talking about and before we judge Alex, let us take some time to think about ourselves. Bromell conveniently disregards the victims of Alex and only takes the consideration when he needs. That is the art of a best director, who knows what to make every one feel when they want to. “Panic” appears to be a cliched film but is a writing exemplification and versatility from Bromell with a correct acting from his main people. This is a good film.

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