HAND GUN (director/writer: Whitney Ransick; cinematographer: Michael Spiller; editor: Tom McArdle; music: Douglas J. Cuomo; cast: Seymour Cassel (Jack McCallister), Treat Williams (George McCallister), Paul Schulze (Michael McCallister), Anna Levine (Laura), Frank Vincent (Earl), Zoë Lund (Zelda), Michael Imperioli (Benny), Michael Rapaport (Lenny), Star Jasper (Sally), Toby Huss (Ted), Angel Caban (Roy), John Weiner (Junkie Guy); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bob Gosse/Larry Meistrich; The Shooting Gallery; 1994)
“Hand Gun is an amusing indie crime caper flick that’s slick and well-acted by the outstanding ensemble cast.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Hand Gun is an amusing indie crime caper flick that’s slick and well-acted by the outstanding ensemble cast. This was the auspicious film debut for television director and screenwriter Whitney Ransick. It’s set in NYC, and starts out with a blazing shootout between security guards and a gang of armed robbers. The leader of the gang is an aging career criminal just released from prison, Jack McCallister (Seymour Cassel), who escapes from the botched robbery with a half a million while his partners are either killed or arrested. Jack could have saved some of his henchmen, but instead ran for the money and deserted them in an ambush.
Jack goes into hiding after stashing the loot in a Coney Island warehouse locker. His cellmate from prison, Benny, hides him in a dumpy apartment as a return favor from prison days, but wants him to leave quickly as both the cops and the mob are asking too many questions. Jack won’t leave until he sees his lady friend Laura (Levine) and his estranged sons he has been a terrible father to. Jack and George (Treat Williams) don’t even recognize each other as he falls into Mikey’s place bleeding from the stomach. George, his eldest, is also a violent gun toting career criminal, who is just out of prison on a legal technicality. While Mikey (Paul Schulze), his youngest, is non-violent and so far jail free but an oily con man who sells burial plots that don’t exist to the elderly.
Mikey is tracked down by relatives of an elderly man he cheated, as one of them (Rapaport) gives him a wicked beating. While lying in an alleyway to lick his wounds, Earl and his gang descend and politely tell Mikey in gangster lingo that they’re looking for his dad and it would be profitable if he called them when he makes contact. Meanwhile, George is taken down to the police station and questioned about a handgun found in the apartment of the lady he was sleeping with. Two crooked cops, Roy (Caban) and Ted (Huss), recognize him from the newspaper photos of the heist and decide to follow him after his release and see if he could lead them to his dad and the stolen money. While buying pot and a handgun from his low-life dealer friend, the crooked cops try to arrest him but in their nervousness they fatally shoot the drug dealer as George escapes.
Hand Gun is a post-modern deadpan comical spin on gangster flicks and a quirky character study about thieves without honor. Treat and Schulze fire off snappy lines as fast as all the speeding bullets they are dodging, with Treat’s performance in particular being awesome. The action scenes could have been drawn tighter, but why quibble when the film was so richly entertaining and the dialogue so razor sharp.
REVIEWED ON 9/10/2002 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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