Gun Shy Reviews
Charlie (Liam Neeson) is a veteran undercover DEA agent whose close encounter with death in his last sting operation has left him with a bad case of anxiety. He confesses this to a a psychiatrist who introduces him to a support group of other unhappy men. Fulvio (Oliver Platt) is a mob hit man who is full of anger. They all fall together with two Colombian drug dealers anxious to make some big money and improve their status in the cartel.
Once again Liam Neeson done a movie that is poor and dull, lacks the zeal. A deteriorating story that is all a disaster!
[originally posted 22Nov2000]
It's utterly amazing to me, even after so many examples of it, that a film containing A-list, top-of-the-line B-list, and excellent underrated actors can still miss the mark so widely, but there it is.
Gun Shy is Eric Blakeney (Baywatch, Generation X)'s big-screen debut, and casting-wise, at least, he pulled out all the stops. Liam Neeson is a DEA agent who's become disenchanted with his job, and it's turned him into something of a neurotic. He's assigned to go undercover to sting the mob, and he meets a similarly neurotic hit man, whom he befriends (Oliver Platt), while falling in love with, yes, his enema nurse (Sandra Bullock) and trying to achieve rapport with his support group.
Sound like a cute comedy? It could have been. Or a decent thriller, playing the mob-infiltration angle. Human drama? Well, maybe not, given the enema-nurse angle, but it might have managed a stab in the right direction. Romance? Maybe. Combine any two of those and you may manage a serviceable movie; comedy-action thrillers have been all the rage since Lethal Weapon. But even that vaunted team couldn't add a third element and keep it working correctly (did anyone really like Lethal Weapon 3?). Not surprisingly, Blakeney comes up with a mess that looks like someone attempted to cook spaghetti, with sauce, in a pressure cooker that exploded. Pass on this one. Really. * 1/2
Later on, I will be discussing how the swiftness of this film's pacing is its best and worse feature, keeping entertainment value alive and well, but also exhausting you to no end after a while, due to its being so consistent, yet on the occasions in which the film does, in fact, calm its busy self down, it makes its slow-downs count, never getting to be too bland, let alone dull, but still being serious enough to halt freneticism and ignite an unevenness in pacing that makes the limpness and fair degree of blandness to the slow-downs all the more glaring. The film has its slow spots, but they're few and far between, so at the end of the day, hurrying is this film's biggest problem, or at least its core problem, from which we get such other major issues as underdevelopment, which robs the final product of immediate exposition and dilutes gradual exposition that could have at least stood a chance of drawing your attention away from the questionable areas in character behavior and forced plot beats (People, I doubt that gastrointestinal problems will get you a love interest as cute as Sandra Bullock as quickly as it got Liam Neeson's character the eccentric doctor, played by Bullock, who treated him for the overwhelming anxiety that, as far as she knows, is his only trait). Little information is given to associate you with the characters and their story, and that distances your investment, which is ironic, because these characters and their story are pretty familiar, being components to a certain considerable conventionalism that draws the final product into a formulaic batch of dark comedies of its type and hurts the memorability of this film, which isn't to say that familiarity is the only thing that plagues this plot's formula. Like I said earlier, as much as it is the final product's biggest strength, speedy storytelling is also the film's biggest problem, because after a while, all of the liveliness devolves into a freneticism which forcefully condenses plotting into an incoherent, confusing and all around exhaustingly busy mess that, before too long, gets to be repetitious, maybe even monotonous. The frantic business of the plotting thins out focus into aimlessness, though not exactly a traditional form of aimlessness, because where your usual unfocused film meanders along blandly, this film dashes along too quickly to see where it's going. Sure, the speediness of the storytelling entertains, and such entertainment value goes complimented by what is, in fact, done right, yet it gets be exhausting, and when it's not thoroughly disengaging, it's diluting your investment enough to leave you to think about the other problems, of which there are more than there should be, resulting in underwhelmingness. Nonetheless, when the film works, or at least about as much as it's going to, it keeps you sticking with it, pretty entertained, and while you do walk away with much to be desired by a film that was never to offer too much, there's plenty to enjoy, even in the musical department, at least up to a point.
This film isn't quite as commercial or contemporaneous as plenty of other conventional comedies of its type, but it has its share of contemporary tunes, many of which kind of fall flat, as you would expect from modern music, and yet, there are still some obviously obscure and then-relevant ditties that prove to be decent by today's standards, and go joined by both a couple of particularly enjoyable classic tunes, and a formulaic and often bland, but generally colorful original score by Rolfe Kent, in complimenting entertainment value with a lively musical style whose decency goes matched by the handsome visual style. Only so much is all that impressive about Tom Richmond's score, but the point is that there is, in fact, a certain degree of impressiveness to Richmond's efforts, which offer reasonably crisp and well-defined lighting, and a moderately rich, sometimes lovely color palette, and when it comes to framing, there's a certain tight style that is both frequently nifty and sometimes immersive. As you can probably imagine, - considering what type of film this is - the final product is by no means a technical marvel, and it isn't too much of a sharp style piece, so don't go in expecting this effort to be, at the very least, a triumph in liveliness punch-up, but do know that there is more niftiness to the photographic and musical value than expected, and that breathes some energy into this fluff piece, yet is not nearly as significant as the writing that can make or break this messy flick. As I've said time and again, the hiccups in Eric Blakeney's script are glaring, with a frantic incoherency that offers little in the way of expository depth, and just as little in originality, so the final product faces great risks, yet ultimately overcomes them so much that liveliness is firmly secured, partially by some colorful set pieces that add to the intrigue of this familiar story concept, and largely by highlights in written punch-up, because while there are overly snappy occasions in dialogue, and more than a few fall-flat lowbrow moments in the humor that drives this should-be reasonably clever dark comedy, I would consider the film's writing sharper than they say, with more than a few decent dialogue bits, as well as hits in humor that range from chuckle-worthy, to near-hilariously slick and colorful. The final product isn't as witty as it could have been, perhaps even should have been, but when Blakeney, as both writer and director, hits, as he quite often does, he consistently entertains, sometimes thoroughly, or at least delivers on plenty of charm, which wouldn't be quite as firm as it ultimately without Blakeney's charm's being accompanied by the charm that is to be expected out of this colorful cast of talents. On paper, the characters have their questionable moments, and are often types, or at least come off as types because of their being so underdeveloped, so there are flaws in characterization that the performers can't completely settle down, but more often than not, most everyone in this cast proves to be effective, with standouts including such supporting players as Oliver Platt and JosÚ Z˙˝iga, - who prove to be convincing as dangerous, if somewhat colorful men of power - as well as leading man Liam Neeson, who delivers on both a believably well-balanced Irish-American accent and electric charisma, while having unexpected effective moments as a sharp, but scarred undercover officer working to clear his mind of anxiety. Neeson more or less carries this film, he's so charismatic, being unable to fully compensate for the issues in the characterization of the Charles Mayeaux character, let alone the other issues in storytelling, but stands among plenty of other highlights in the final product as endearing enough to keep liveliness alive and well, and make a genuinely entertaining, if messy dark comedy.
When the gun cools, memorability already begins to slip, thanks to a lack of all that much originality, as well as slow occasions that blandly break up the freneticism in plotting that proves to be the final product's biggest problem, thinning out expository depth, coherency and focus to the point of crafting and exhaustingly aimless flick, which still stands firm as decent, thanks to the colorful music, reasonably attractive cinematography, and lively highlights in writing - complimented by generally spirited directorial storytelling and charismatic performances throughout the cast, from which leading man Liam Neeson stands out - that make Eric Blakeney's "Gun Shy" an entertaining, if lowbrow dark comedy that charm thoroughly, regardless of the messiness.
2.5/5 - Fair
2011 Movies: 31