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Panic [Import]

William H. Macy , Neve Campbell , Henry Bromell    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 41.11
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Product Description


When Sarah (Neve Campbell) strikes up a conversation with a sad-eyed man called Alex (William H. Macy) at her therapist's office, she asks, "Are you one of those middle-aged guys who's tired of his marriage and thinking maybe a beautiful young thing could help him out?" She's right, but the source of Alex's depression is far from typical: he's a second-generation hit man who wants out, but his mom and dad won't let him quit.

Donald Sutherland makes Alex's laconic and utterly monstrous father the most frightening parent since John Huston in Chinatown. A series of flashbacks show how he introduced Alex to his trade, beginning with shooting squirrels in the woods. We never find out whether Alex's father has mob connections, and the fact that it's just a business to him ("This one's a big job, lots of moola, I'll buy your mother a Lexus") makes him all the more chilling. Alex's mother (the steely Barbara Bain) knows all about the family business, but his wife (Tracey Ullman) thinks he runs a mail-order company, and the only person he confides in is a therapist (John Ritter). When he meets and falls for Sarah, Alex realizes that he alone can stand up to his father, and he needs to act before his own son becomes the next apprentice.

Henry Bromell's debut film as a writer-director probes the same dark corners of the middle-aged male psyche as American Beauty and The Sopranos. Alex's tormented life is a symbol of the damage that parents can inflict on their children, and Bromell imbues his story with a tragic inevitability. Panic received a shamefully limited theatrical release, in spite of its rare combination of a great script and brilliant performances. It deserves to be rediscovered and appreciated by a much larger audience on home video. --Simon Leake

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sins of the Father ... May 31 2004
What a find this movie was. Subtle, tense, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny and ultimately satisfying.
A hit-man wants out of the family business, and in to the pants of Neve Campbell. Which, I suppose, makes him a murderer and a philanderer. Not that you'll feel anything but empathy and compassion for William H. Macy's character: which, of course, is his genius.
In a story that explores, among other things, the whole family dynamic - from the damage our parents do us, to the effort needed to make a marriage succeed - you'll find it all rings true. The context of the story is alien and exotic, but the relationships aren't. Your father is probably not a controlling and manipulative sociopath (and, you know, small mercies and all that ...) but even so, how many of us would find it easy to step up and admonish him, when he steps over the line?
Donald Sutherland's performance as the sociopathic pater is astonishingly good. He actually had me shouting at the screen. And I'm British. We just don't do that ...
Give this movie a go. You won't find the experience entirely comfortable, nor will it be an escape from the rigours of the world (because there's too much of the world in the movie) but it will make you laugh, wince, cheer and, most importantly of all, it will make you think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars symbolic Feb. 11 2004
By Bob
There is a scene in the middle of the movie when Alex takes his son to see his grandfather, who has bought him a birthday present. It is the most interesting scene of the movie, and the heart from which everything else should radiate. It is the only time that Alex, his father, and his son are all onscreen at the same time and you realize that this is the conflict that is killing Alex -- he is his father's son, cynical, secretive, and ruthless, but he is also equally his son's father -- innocent, curious, and affectionate. Framed that way, both his father and his son can be seen as reflections of his own psyche. The reason why he is so blank, so tired and depressed, is that they cancel each other out. By then end of that scene I knew how the movie had to end.
The side story involving Neve Campbell isn't very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie -- what a cute little boy! Feb. 11 2004
By Lovely
The boy who plays Sammy, the hit man's son, is about the cutest thing I've ever seen! He's just darling! He reminds me of that kind from Jerry McGuire -- "the human head weighs 8 pounds" Soooo cute!
The rest of the movie was pretty good, but I just loved the little boy's scenes!
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Anyone who likes character-driven movies should take a chance with this fine film!
A professional killer (played brilliantly by Bill Macy) is at a crossroads in his life as his own young son has reached the age when he himself was indoctrinated by his father to bottle his emotions and start shooting at squirrels, an activity that ended in him adopting the family business of paid assassinations.
That predicament is intriguing in itself, but handled as professionally as the film does, it is absolutely riveting. The dialogue is sharp and smart, and this relatively short film nevertheless has the power to elicit a full range of emotions from the viewer. There are places to laugh, to be shocked, horrified, saddened, aroused, angry, and to love. A wholesome treat.
It is an actor's movie, and the ensemble of terrific artists -- Macy, Neve Campbell, Ullman, and Ritter -- play off each other like members of a top-notch theatrical troupe, who realize that a quality product requires each actor to support the others unselfishly. Barbara Bain and Donald Sutherland -- who play father and mother -- are positive chilling, discussing the "family business" as if it were a grocery store or a dry cleaners. And remarkably, there's Sammy (David Dorfman), the young boy, who turns in an absolutely stunning performance, not to mention his uncanny resemblance to Ullman, whose son he plays! Great cast selection.
Watch this masterpiece if you get a chance! This is stuff you'd even want to own.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Done Feb. 9 2003
By A Customer
Ok, it stars out kind of slow for about the first 15 minutes. After that you get this highly intriguing story about a seemingly normal guy (William H. Macy) who is considering an affair with a younger beautiful woman (Neve Cambell). Oh yeah, did I mention that Macy is a second generation hitman, and Cambell is a lesbian??? Excellent performance by Tracy Ulman as Macy's wife also. Well worth the watch.
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All fans of masterful acting should take a gander at "Panic". A little-seen gem that initially seems to be a part of the ever-expanding "criminal and his psychiatrist" mini-genre, but separates itself from 'The Sopranos" and "Analyze This/That/The Other" by it's detail and sobriety.
No big laughs, no big explosions, not a lot of yelling and screaming...but gut-wrenching nonetheless. Macy's depiction of his ever-growing but completely internal "panic" sets this apart. This is really 'Best Actor" type stuff here.
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