Ian Holm did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning BAFTA, for portraying Gunner Bill Flynn in The Bofors Gun.
The film focuses on one small section of men through a night where they are assigned to guard a useless gun for an extended period. There is a difficulty to begin with with Warner's Evans being put in charge the small group of men he use to be part of as just one of the regulars. Further complications from Evans's success of the night determines his ability to go home and attempt officer training. Most of the men of the section have little respect for Evans and are at best indifferent to him, his only friend in the group is Holm's Gunner Flynn. Holm makes important use of his early scenes by providing just this warmth in his early interactions with Warner. Holm provides a most genuine support in these moments just providing earnest encouragement presenting Flynn well as just looking out for his friend. This is even found when Evans takes command, and Holm even utilizes a few important reaction shots. In these moments he shows Flynn watching Evans, not looking for flaws to exploit but rather watching with an honest concern hoping his friend will not falter.
As the night goes on O'Rourke's behavior becomes more and more problematic with the other men either partially encouraging it or doing nothing to prevent it, and with Evans hesitating to do anything since it may compromise his return home. Flynn appears for a while as Evans's only solace, but only a solace of sorts as provided by Holm's performance. Holm portrays very specifically a directed delivery representing Flynn attempting to encourage Evans to do the right thing. In each scene we see him in though Holm also reveals a slowly growing frustration in Flynn as Evans keeps avoiding directly dealing with O'Rourke, and allows the problem to continue to grow. Holm builds those frustrations until a scene with Flynn and Evans are alone together, and Flynn tells Evans the blunt truth. Holm is excellent in this scene as he brings such a incisiveness to every one of Flynn's words towards Evans, as he tells him that he is doing the wrong thing. Holm is careful though as he does offer such an intensity in revealing anger towards his friend, but he still shows that Flynn is remaining a friend. Holm's delivery does not go towards hatred just a striking disappointment, portraying Flynn's words as tough love. This stands well as a foil to his scene where he goes and confronts O'Rourke over his behavior. Holm is as incisive in this scene as well but this time offering a strict hatred towards the man. Every word Holm gives a strong coating of venom as Flynn reveals his severe disdain for O'Rourke, and it is cathartic moment through Holm's work as the one man willing to stand up to the out of control O'Rourke. Although the film ends away from Flynn, focusing naturally on a more direct confrontation between Evans and O'Rourke, Holm though in his limited screentime makes his impact particularly through those two aforementioned scenes. Holm gives a terrific performance as he delivers the needed uncompromising sanity that ensures Flynn stands out by being part of the group, but never exactly one of them.