Reviewed by GREG KING.
The debut feature from writer/director Eric Blakeney, Gunshy is a curious and uneven mix of romantic comedy and comic thriller. With this offbeat black comedy Blakeney refuses to find easy laughs or follow a comfortable formula. Consequently, this disappointing and muddled offering will probably alienate more in the audience than it satisfies. Charlie Mayo (Liam Neeson) is an undercover agent for the DEA. He is caught in a complicated sting operation involving a rogue Wall Street broker, a pair of gay Colombian drug dealers (Jose Zuniga and Michael Delorenzo) and Fulvio (the very busy Oliver Platt), a reluctant Mafia hitman married to the Don’s shrewish daughter. But Charlie’s last operation went disastrously wrong when he was betrayed by an informant within the DEA itself. Subsequently, Charlie is a bundle of nerves who suffers from some embarrassing intestinal troubles. He seeks help by joining a therapy group run by an uncaring shrink (Michael Mantell), where he shares stories with stressed out business executives. He also finds romance with Julia (Sandra Bullock), a nurse heavily into alternative therapies and barium enemas. These disparate characters are all eventually brought together as Charlie’s undercover operation begins to go horribly wrong. Some plot elements here loosely resemble the vastly superior Analyze This, although Gunshy seems pretty clueless in comparison. Blakeney’s direction lacks assurance and inspiration, and the film’s uneven rhythm and lack of pace doesn’t help. Blakeney also wastes the talents of a solid cast on this lacklustre material. Neeson normally has a strong physical screen presence, and he seems both uncomfortable and unconvincing playing the neurotic and insecure hero. Bullock is wasted in a fairly thankless role as the obligatory love interest, but she only has herself to blame since she is also credited as producer of this mess. Only the reliable Platt emerges with some dignity as he stamps his authority on some finely judged comic moments. Gunshy is a disappointing film that audiences would do best to shy well away from. At least, until it comes out on video, where it may find a more receptive audience.