Though its undeniable comparisons to the similarly themed television series The Sopranos have blunted some of its impact, Henry Bromell's droll comedy-of-manners still registers strongly as a study of human frailty. One could argue that Bromell's idea to make the central character a hitman immediately brands the film as old-hat, but as played with vivid understatement by William H. Macy, the part bursts with sympathy. The film has an appealing use of visual detail (especially in its evocative widescreen photography), using empty spaces as a representation of Macy's inner torment and desire. A subplot involving a free-spirited young female patient (Neve Campbell) fails to pay off, but the strong ensemble cast gives endless flavor to their portrayals, bringing out Bromell's dry humor in unexpected and wonderful ways. In an odd turn of events, Panic played at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to positive notices, only to premiere on cable (much to the dismay of cineastes). But an independent company decided to give it a limited release around the nation to build up word of mouth, in much the same manner as John Dahl's critically acclaimed features of 1993, Red Rock West and The Last Seduction.
by Jason Clark review