Not being a huge fan of the comedy genre, I decided to give this film a view, mainly because it was produced in England (their films are light-years ahead of American ones in terms of overall quality) and because of the actors appearing in it, some that are not associated with comedies.
Parting Shots is a heavily flawed movie (the plot isn’t totally unrealistic, but how it is carried out is), but I am glad I watched it. This is not your typical comedy as it has a very dark theme to it. Harry Sterndale, played by Chris Rea, finds out he has stomach cancer and only six weeks to live. Rather than make peace with himself, he sits down and goes through a photo album, recollecting all the people whom he loved in life, and all the people who made his time on earth a living hell. He then decides that he is going to kill everyone who did something to upset him in his life.
His first victim is his ex-wife, played by Diana Rigg. She nails the role as your typical bitchy woman who dumped her loving husband for a younger man who is loaded with money. He then goes after a Bernie Madoff-type character, played by Bob Hoskins, and drowns him in a swimming pool. The murders are not graphic, and they are off camera—the mood is also very lighthearted.
After taking his first two victims, he then falls in love with Felicity Kendall, from the very popular British TV series Rosemary and Thyme. He takes her to a very expensive restaurant wanting to impress her, and they are met with horrible service because of how they are dressed—everyone else in the restaurant was wealthy and wearing tuxedos. After he complains about the inedible food, that seems intentional, the maitre di summons the chef, Renzo, who is world-renowned for his gourmet cooking, hot temper, and arrogance. The chef is played by Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) and I felt he gave the best performance even though his part was only about five minutes. Not noted for appearing in comedies, he did not look out of place and was very funny. Because Rea’s night was ruined, you can tell who his next victim will be.
After another murder or two, and realizing how much he loves Kendall, Rea hires a hitman to kill himself because his will has a “valiant death clause” which states that if he was murdered, the person on the receiving end of the money would get more. This hitman is played by Oliver Reed (Gladiator), who is excellent as an eccentric and professional, yet clumsy, hired killer. He tries several times to murder Rea but someone always seems to walk in front of his gun that is not expected, including police officers and the visiting president of a foreign country, he is arrested and all the murders Rea committed are blamed 0n Reed’s character because the gun they used were one in the same.
As I said, this is not a great movie but its 90 minute running time will provide you with something to watch if you have a busy schedule. You will not laugh out loud, but there is some decent comedy including an appearance by the legendary Monty Python member John Cleese, who is Rea’s ex-business partner who conned him out of a chance to be a millionaire businessman for an advertising company. I will give this a 6 out of 10, which is higher than its IMDB rating of 5.1. There are also good performances by the supporting cast, including Gareth Hunt and Nicholas Gecks as policemen hunting down Rea, and Joanna Lumley as the highly spiritual pub owner who sells Rea his gun.