[box cover]


Following the cross-over popularity of Pulp Fiction, the resulting rash of indie films became preoccupied with the idea of Hit Man As Existential Anti-Hero. This concept was easy for first-time wannabe screenwriters to churn out in numbers, allowing for sensational violence, knee-jerk cynicism, and the obvious irony of juxtaposing Career Killer against Normal Family/Normal Job/Normal Issues. However, Henry Bromell's unfortunate directorial debut, Panic, signals a tepid curtain call for this particular genre. William H. Macy stars as Alex, an assassin brought into his profession as a young man by his cold father (Donald Sutherland). Now facing a mid-life crisis, Alex begins seeing a therapist, falls for a disturbed young hottie (Neve Campbell, wearing thin her limited bag of gestures), and wants out of the business. Bromell's style is quiet and somber, and although his cast is excellent (Sutherland especially), the movie is — well — boring. Thematically, Panic's trendy-but-shallow ideas have been done to death over the preceding decade, and usually with a good deal more humor (Grosse Pointe Blank), suspense (The Professional) and excitement (The Killer). Even the most chilling scenes in Panic are telegraphed far in advance by sheer weight of familiarity. Also with Tracey Ullman, John Ritter, and a numbingly unsurprising plot twist. Presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Commentary by Bromell, deleted scenes, trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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