He Was a Quiet ManDecember 7, 2007
An office worker inadvertently becomes a hero after he saves a woman's life.
Release Year: 2007
Rating: 6.9/10 (14,795 voted)
Critic's Score: 53/100
Frank A. Cappello
Stars: Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert, William H. Macy
A troubled loner, Bob Maconel, imagines blowing up the tower in Los Angeles where he works. He takes a revolver to his office intent on killing colleagues, and then himself. At home, he holds conversations with his fish, who encourage him to do it. His supervisor picks on him. As he's screwing his courage to the sticking place, he drops a bullet; while on the floor looking for it, another colleague does exactly what Bob has been planning. Bob emerges a hero and the one colleague he likes, a woman with a bright smile, is severely wounded. Can Bob help her through despair and find himself and joy in life? Or, as everyone says, is this impossible for a man like him?
(as Frankie Lou Thorn)
(as Levia Trevino)
William H. Macy
He seemed like such a nice guy.. He pretty much kept to himself…
Release Date: 7 December 2007
Filming Locations: Burbank, California, USA
Opening Weekend: $2,431
(30 November 2007)
Did You Know?
According to the director's commentary on the DVD the entire movie was shot in only 21 days.
(82 minutes in) When Bob is running out of the building after talking to Maurice, he removes his tie as he descends the stairs. In the next shot, however, his tie is once again tied around his neck.
I… am not… a spoon.
Witty, quirky, dark comedy undone slightly by its visuals…
Frank A. Cappello, writer and director of He Was a Quiet Man, is a man
with something to prove, having written the hilariously bad Hulk Hogan
vehicle Suburban Commando, and directing the wholly disappointing
Constantine. He Was a Quiet Man, whilst not an unqualified success, is
one of the underseen gems of 2007.
The film is essentially an amalgam of A History of Violence, Falling
Down, and Office Space, with a pile of quirks to boot. Bob Maconel (the
hilariously disguised Christian Slater), a despondent office worker,
decides that he is going to perform a murderous rampage at his work
office, yet before he can do so, a fellow maniac beats him to it.
However, Bob, in protecting the one person that he cares about, the
beautiful Vanessa (Elisha Cuthbert), guns down the assailant, and
inadvertently becomes a hero.
Bob is unashamedly similar to Michael Douglas' "D-Fens" character from
Falling Down, kitted out in a shirt and tie, and even further, seeks
moments of reflection in the great outdoors, although in this instance,
there are no Mexican gangsters attempting to rob him. The similarities
do, thankfully, stop there this film is born of something else, with
its CGI traffic whizzing by at astronomical speeds as Bob dawdles
along, illustrating the drudgery of Bob's life without an ounce of
subtlety. Whilst the film as a whole is overly reliant on visual
curiosities such as this, the animated, talking fish which eggs Bob on
to kill his colleagues is delightfully colourful, and mildly amusing to
As one can gather from the above paragraph, He Was a Quiet Man is very
surreal in a hilarious sort of way. Essentially, if you gave David
Lynch a funny bone, you'd probably end up with something remarkably
similar to this. Despite the aforementioned reliance on visual effects,
the film is unquestionably carried by the barely-recognisable Slater
who, despite his recent collaboration with tragically awful director
Uwe Boll, proves that he is still worth something in Hollywood, with
comic timing that is nothing short of spot on.
Bob is essentially revered by everyone around him for his "heroic"
actions he is given a new job, his colleagues no longer think of him
as a schmuck, and the sexy office bitch wants to have sex with him, yet
the film's real point of contention is Cuthbert's character. Vanessa is
left paralysed following the shooting, wishing that she was dead, and
moreover, she wishes that Bob, who saved her life, would kill her.
A surprisingly understated (until the climatic scenes) conundrum
surfaces as an aside to this drama Bob still finds those around him
utterly repugnant, and he considers whether or not to carry out what
the other gunner started, as well as putting Vanessa out of her misery,
of course. The film carries these questions very well it is at times
predictable, and occasionally not so, yet it never ceases to lose its
sense of intrigue. The film's examination of the way in which humans
operate is not intricate, and verges on syrupy at times, yet what is
most entertaining about He Was a Quiet Man is its surreal spirit.
Furthermore, even in its sweetness, the film explores the lives of
disabled persons with a surprising level of insight and honesty . It
may be exaggerated, and at times, even humorous, yet its approach is
undeniably refreshing, particularly in relation to how the disabled
manage to still engage in an active and healthy sex life.
He Was a Quiet Man never remains comfortable, constantly fidgeting and
posing new questions for both ourselves and Bob to consider. The film
follows through with an insane close, yet it is the most manically
reasoned, and therefore, perhaps the most realistic end possible
(although term "realism" is a very tenuous one in a film as twisted as
this). The ending comes very abruptly, and little is done to satisfy
viewer curiosity, yet we are given the vital answers, even if they
aren't wholly satisfying, and are a tad questionable. We are left to
ponder several things, yet when the preceding ninety minutes are so
intentionally devoid of poignance, the film may simply leave your mind
as the final frame does.
Christian Slater's latest and greatest effort (at least for a while) is
A History of Violence without the graphic violence, Falling Down
without the social commentary, and Office Space without the sagacious
humour. Yes, it is a blend of all three films, at the cost of diluting
each of them. The film's worst crime may be never allowing us to
particularly care for Bob (or anyone) as much as we did for D-Fens in
Schumacher's film, yet even despite its relative superficiality, He Was
a Quiet Man remains a thoroughly entertaining, inventive and quirky
film that will have nihilists the world over utterly dumbfounded
(myself included). Elisha Cuthbert pulls out a career best (in that she
is above tolerable, and even "good"), William H Macy plays the
corporate yes-man with glee, and Slater, with great aid from his
fabulous make-up department, looks and acts with great hilarity. It is
unfortunate that this film, embracing its flaws as it so flagrantly
does, has yet to find a large audience, and as such, it instantly
becomes one of the indie staples of 2007.