"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
"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 anxietyÃ‘he 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
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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