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Film / Parting Shots

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Parting Shots is a 1999 British black comedy movie co-written and directed by Michael Winner, starring Chris Rea, Felicity Kendal, Oliver Reed, Joanna Lumley, Peter Davison, Bob Hoskins, Diana Rigg, Ben Kingsley, and John Cleese.

Failed wedding photographer Harry Sterndale (Rea) is told by his doctor that he has six weeks left to live after being diagnosed with cancer. Upon hearing this, Harry decides to kill a number of people who made his life a misery. Along the way, he meets Jill Saunders (Kendal) and plans to have himself killed violently by a hitman named Jamie Campbell-Stewart (Reed), so Jill can collect the life insurance and Harry won't have to spend his last days in custody.

This was the last film ever directed by Michael Winner, who moved on to restaurant criticism full-time until his death in 2013.

This film provides examples of:

  • And Starring: John Cleese is given a tiny "With John Cleese" credit in the opening credits.
  • And the Adventure Continues: While they visit him in prison at the end of the film, Jamie gives Harry and Jill the name of a man he wants Harry to assassinate.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Jamie accidentally killing President Zlomov earns him the respect of Britain's youth.
  • Angry Chef: Locatelli, who throws Harry out of his restaurant and ends up getting killed by him for it.
  • Asshole Victim: All of Harry's victims, and President Zlomov.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For a film revolving around murder, there sure seems to be a very strange lack of blood.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Harry has got quite a sharp tongue.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Harry, Jill, and Jamie all have a good laugh at the end of the movie.
  • Expy: Sir Ben Kingsley's character, a chef named Renzo Locatelli, was a caricature of an actual chef who once threw Winner out of his restaurant for giving him a bad review.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: The premise involves Harry killing the people who made his life a misery.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
  • Irrevocable Order: Harry has a hit called on himself (as he has cancer and plans to kill everyone who ever wronged him before having himself murdered to leave Jill with his life insurance money). On discovering he's recovering he tries and fails to call off the hit. Luckily, Jamie the hitman misses and kills a hated dictator (and also framing himself for the protagonist's murders). As a result, Harry gets off scot-free and Jamie becomes a hero.
  • Jerkass: Again, all of Harry's victims, and President Zlomov.
  • Karma Houdini: Harry murders five people in cold blood and comes out smelling like a rose.
  • The Kingslayer: Jamie becomes an unintentional example when he fatally shoots President Zlomov in a failed attempt to kill Harry.
  • Lovable Rogue: Harry.
  • Murder by Mistake: During the climax, Jamie tries to shoot Harry dead, but unintentionally kills President Zlomov instead. However, the authorities think he meant to kill Zlomov (partly because he was pretending to be a protestor at the time), and Jamie doesn't contradict them.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Blues-rock singer/guitarist Chris Rea is the film's leading man.
  • Police Are Useless
  • Pop-Star Composer: In addition to playing the lead role, Chris Rea contributes to the soundtrack.
  • Sequel Hook: The movie ends with a just-married Harry and Jill visiting Jamie in prison and agreeing to take care of some unfinished business for him.
  • Suicide by Assassin: Near the end of the movie, Harry, reasoning that he's going to die anyway, hires Jamie to kill him so Jill will get more money from his life insurance policy.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Yes, Harry kills five people, but all of them are complete scumbags who've wronged him in some way.
  • Take That!: Locatelli is an unflattering caricature of the chef who kicked Michael Winner out of a restaurant. As if that weren't enough, he ends up getting killed by Harry.
  • Taking the Heat: After Jamie gets arrested for killing President Zlomov, he gets charged with killing Harry's victims as well. He willingly takes the blame for them, partly because he knows he doesn't have any chance of avoiding prison.
  • Terminally Ill Criminal: This Black Comedy film revolves around failed photographer Harry Sterndale, who after learning that he has terminal cancer and will die in just six weeks, decides to go on a killing spree targeting everyone in his life who ever wronged him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Renzo Locatelli gives Harry a rant about how "he knows nothing" about food, right before he kicks him and Jill out of his restaurant. And when Harry goes to kill Locatelli for his jerkish nature, he gives his own speech about how "he knows nothing" about being a decent human being.