The whole tough-guy-goes-into-therapy schtick saw this lazily lumped in with Analyze This and assorted episodes of The Sopranos when it opened in the States. Which is a shame really, because if Gun Shy resembles anything it's Grosse Pointe Blank and Zero Effect. While the film's too flawed and patchy to really live up to the skewed cool of either of those movies (or even Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, come to that), it's still way smarter than your average comedy thriller.
Liam Neeson is ideally cast as the crumbling DEA agent. He's big, calm and controlled when in character on an operation (you could trust this guy with laundering your illegal coke dosh on any day of the week) and a paranoid wreck when off it, and his relationship with Oliver Platt's in-your-face mobster is unfailingly enjoyable. One's a cop pretending to be a crook, the other is a crook whose life is jigsaw-puzzling around him, and neither of them really wants to be doing what they're doing anymore. In the middle of the usual mafiosi clichés and chirpy banter, they pull together the threads of that most cheering of mid-life myths - - that it's never too late for anyone to change their life for the better.
The only seriously jarring note is Sandra Bullock. Her supporting turn as Judy is a gold-plated mistake. Less of a character and more of an irritatingly flawless plot device, her only purpose in the narrative is to provide the perfect solution not only to Neeson's problems, but also director Blakeney's. Whenever one of the handful of improbable plot points rears its nasty head, there she is, gorgeous and imperturbable, ready with a deus ex machina solution. It's a lazy way to get around problems in the story and Bullock (here as producer too) is a good enough actress to have spotted and knocked it on the head while still at the script stage.
Former Baywatch scripter Eric Blakeney's first stab at big-screen directing has bouts of ploddy plotting and blurry characterisation, but they can't disguise his film's core of witty, melancholic likeability. A feelgood movie in the very best sense.
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