Panic (2000 film)

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DVD cover
Directed byHenry Bromell
Written byHenry Bromell
Produced by
CinematographyJeffrey Jur
Edited by
Music byBrian Tyler
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 22, 2000 (2000-01-22) (Sundance)
  • December 1, 2000 (2000-12-01) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$779,137[1]

Panic is a 2000 American crime drama film written and directed by Henry Bromell and starring William H. Macy in the lead role, alongside Neve Campbell, Tracey Ullman, John Ritter, Miguel Sandoval, and Donald Sutherland. The film centers on Alex (Macy), a hitman who suffers a midlife crisis amidst the number of struggles he and his family face. Determined to quit contract killing, he seeks treatment from therapist Dr. John Parks (Ritter) and enters an affair with a younger woman, Sarah Cassidy (Campbell).

Panic premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival,[3] and was later given a limited release in theaters in December of that year. The film received universal acclaim from critics, who in particular praised the performances of the acting ensemble.


Alex lives a double life: he is married with a day job, and is a professional hitman. Trained by his father Michael from youth, Alex is dissatisfied with his work and wishes to leave the business behind. He goes into psychotherapy with Dr. Josh Parks, disclosing that he is a hit man, and that he is attracted to a young woman he met in the waiting room. She is Sarah, 23, who is attracted to him as well, but does not want to get involved with a married man.

In flashbacks we see that Alex gets his start as a killer in the family business, at his father's prompting, from his killing of a squirrel as a young boy, to his first human victim as a teenager. Worried that Alex is informing on him, Michael gives Alex his next assignment: to kill Dr. Parks. Alex delays, while Dr. Parks, fearing for his own safety, contacts a police detective, Larson.

Alex keeps returning to Sarah, calling her, stopping by her apartment, as he decides what to do about the hit, his father, his marriage and his malaise. Eventually, he has an affair with Sarah. His wife soon discovers the affair and leaves him, not before he discovers that his father had been grooming his son, Sammy, as a future assassin. Determined not to let Michael ruin Sammy, too, he drives up to Michael's home and shoots him dead, only to be killed himself by Larson, who had been secretly following him.



The film received critical acclaim from critics, and holds a 91% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews, with a consensus stating "This quirky little film about a gangster in therapy feels fresh and well-crafted."[4] Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four.[5] Leonard Maltin gave the film two and a half stars but praised the acting, calling it "excellent."[6] Lisa Nesselson of Variety wrote "Pic’s title implies frenzy and wild activity, but the film’s charm evolves from its measured, unhurried rhythms, and originality from the tone: quirky yet convincing, irreverent yet moral."[7]


  1. ^ a b "Panic". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  2. ^ Goodridge, Mike (24 February 2000). "Summit has Panic attack". Screen International. Retrieved 22 September 2023.
  3. ^ Harris, Dana (June 17, 2001). "Bromell to sire 'Baker's Son'". Variety. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  4. ^ "Panic". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (19 January 2001). "Panic". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 January 2017 – via
  6. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2008). "Panic". Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. New York City: Penguin. p. 1044. ISBN 9780452289789.
  7. ^ Nesselson, Lisa (15 September 2000). "Review: 'Panic'". Variety. Retrieved 8 January 2017.

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