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"I was tired of all those macho movie heroes, and I wanted to write something about a guy who has lost his nerve," says screenwriter Eric Blakeney in his directorial debut. "I kept the idea simmering for five years. My wife kept asking me, "What about your chicken cop script?" And I kept saying, I don't know what it's about." But it all clicked when we were in Australia and I realized that everybody is undercover, in the sense that none of us have the life we really want. I came home and finished the script within a month, and the movie was in production inside a year."

Charlie's character represents the regular guy who loathes his job and dreams of escaping to a more simple life. "We all have an ocean view inside of us," explains Blakeney, referring to Charlie's habit of carrying around a picture of his retirement heaven, a place on the beach. "Externally, Charlie is a James Bond type, but inside he is this vortex of turmoil and dissatisfaction. He just doesn't want this life any more," the director says.

"Heroes have always been stoic," says Liam Neeson. "Thankfully, men are starting to show themselves on screen as unprepared and willing to cry for help. We could do with a bit more of that, I think," Neeson adds. "Charlie has a reputation as a supercop, but now he's play acting that he's in control, because he is so scared. It's a black comedy and yet there is a moving story in there too."

Charlie wants out, but his superiors have other ideas. It has taken months to set up this sting job, and Charlie must finish the assignment. He has no choice, even though fright plays malicious havoc with his nerves and afflicts him with embarrassing stomach problems. He sneaks off to seek the help of a psychiatrist, Dr. Jeff Bleckner (MICHAEL MANTELL), who introduces him to a support group of neurotic yuppies. The guys are dumbfounded when Charlie confesses the source of his deepest anxietyÑhe is terrified of having to go up against vicious mob hit man Fulvio Nesstra (OLIVER PLATT).

Hoping for some relief from his chronically aching gut, Charlie meets Judy Tipp (SANDRA BULLOCK), an attractive nurse. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most unusual first meetings in cinema history. "A person like Charlie, who is under constant pressure, is more prone to developing stress-related problems," smiles writer/director Blakeney. "So Judy has to give him a colonic. In spite of that, Charlie is drawn to her because of her intuitive understanding. And as the most natural and centered person in the film, she senses in him a big wounded soul that she wants to repair."

Deep in the middle of nerve-jarring negotiations to cut a tense money-laundering deal with psychotic mobsters, a touchy Colombian drug cartel scion named Fidel Vaillar (JOSE ZUNIGA), and Jason Cane (ANDY LAUER), a frenetic young Wall Street broker, Charlie does his noble best to maintain his facade of unflappable calm and poise. Meanwhile, everyone else's true self disconcertingly emerges. Fulvio, the man Charlie most dreads in the world, is demoralized by his life. For his part, the suave, cosmopolitan Fidel is tired of trying to win his father's approval and yearns for a new life with his secret lover, Estuvio (MICHAEL DeLORENZO). The yuppies in his support group all share Charlie's vision of a world without bosses. Even Jason, the stockbroker, is not what he appears to be.

But the stakes are high and everyone wants the money. Charlie has got to keep all the pieces together if he hopes to make it out alive one last time. That is, if he can ever retrieve his intestinal fortitude.

"As soon as I read the script I knew I wanted to make the movie," says actress and producer Sandra Bullock, who discovered the screenplay when she was in discussions with Blakeney about a book adaptatio

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