Gun Shy Review

Okay. I am a big fan of both Liam Neeson and Oliver Platt. And Sandra Bullock isn’t exactly sore on the eye. Also present are Richard Schiff (Toby in The West Wing) and Mary McCormack (Murder One). But, everything I read about Gun Shy was negative. Even my friend, with whom I share an almost exact taste in films, told me to avoid it. So I was glad when I received the review copy as it meant that I had to watch it. It was with high hopes and low expectations that I sat down to watch Gun Shy.

The plot centres on Charlie Mayo (Neeson), a renowned DEA agent. When we meet him he is suffering terrible flashbacks from his last mission which went horribly wrong. As a consequence, he is a shambles. Afraid to do his current mission but unable to get out of it, it seeks helps in a group therapy session. However, it is not only his mental problems that are causing the trouble. Charlie also has to deal with psychotic Mafia thug Fulvio Nesstra (Platt) and stomach/bowel problems that are making his life a misery.

The lead performances in Gun Shy are uniformly excellent. Neeson totally convinces as the agent who is a mere shadow of his former self. Standing at over six feet, Neeson is a large man and can be a daunting figure, but here we believe that he is petrified by the mere sight of watermelons. Platt, too, is an absolute joy to watch. Fulvio is, at the outset, a comic character but Platt injects a great deal of pathos and humanity into the role so that rather than seeing him as the bad guy we end up rooting for him. Sandra Bullock (also producing) takes a back seat. Her nurse Judy is yet another kooky nice girl from the Bullock back catalogue (Speed, While You Were Sleeping) but she does it so well who cares?

These three are ably supported by Richard Schiff, as a member of Neeson’s group therapy class who has a problem keeping his anger under control. He is a hugely under-rated yet fantastic actor (as anyone who watches The West Wing will know) and here delivers a performance which induces many laugh-out-loud moments. Excellent too is Mary McCormack as Fulvio’s wife. He contempt for her husband and her constant put-downs are great and she has the accent off to a tee. Less impressive is Mitch Pileggi as Neeson’s boss. He is fine but the character is too similar to Skinner in The X Files to really draw you in. You half expect to see Mulder and Scully appear in his office. Other cast members are all good, if not spectacular.

I actually enjoyed Gun Shy. That is not to say that it is a great movie. It is far from it. It clearly aspires to be an Analyze This from the cop’s point of view, but it falls way short of the mark. The opening sequence is just plain bizarre - it is almost as if writer/director Eric Blakeney decided to make it as off-the-wall as possible - and doesn’t work; the toilet jokes (save perhaps the enema scene) are not funny; Fidel’s transition from hard-ass Columbian to caring homosexual was handled very badly.

But it does have its good points. The script has some very funny lines; there are some excellent set ups (such as Charlie and Judy successfully avoiding all the bad guys in an Ideal Home Exhibition only to walk into a restaurant where they are all eating); its pacey; the music is good; it has a nice little twist near the end; followed but an even nicer little twist even nearer the end.

How does the disc shape up? Well, it’s fine. Released by Redbus/Warner through Buena Vista (as far as I can tell), the quality is not up to Warner’s/Buena Vista’s usual high standard of say Any Given Sunday or Con Air but it is perfectly adequate. The picture is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1. It is a little soft and there is some noticeable grain at times. The edges are not as sharp as I would have liked but it is not a disaster.

The sound fares a little better. The dialogue is clear and is always audible. The surrounds are used well during the infrequent gunfights but mainly contain the score. Gun Shy is not a loud film and little use is needed of the bass but it occasionally comes to life.

Extras wise, this disc is a disaster. Listed on the box is Trailer and Cast & Crew Interviews. On my disc, however, when you click on the Interviews, the main menu screen is merely reloaded. But fear not, the trailer can be accessed (whoopee!). It is difficult to review an ’extra’ that isn’t there, so if you do have it on the disc you get add on a point.

The menus are static and silent and there are 20 chapter stops. I don’t normally comment on packaging but I must say that I really liked this one, except for the red ’15’ logo in the corner.

Gun Shy is not by any means a classic. It is also not the disaster that the critics and public have made it out to be. It is a quirky little movie with fine performances and a good script. Don’t worry if you find the first five minutes annoying. Stick with it. It gets much, much better. I wouldn’t recommend that you buy this unless you are a die-hard Liam Neeson or Oliver Platt fan. I thought it was very enjoyable and will be watching it again. Rent before you buy.

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