Review: The Gunman
Manly men do bloody battle and dabble in betrayal in The Gunman, a self-serious action drama that finds a muscled Sean Penn seeking answers and fighting for survival.
He is Jim Terrier, a humanitarian and contractor – that is, contract killer – who finds himself in 2014 paying for a deed he carried out eight years prior. Someone in his party, including a bearded and equally scary Javier Bardem, knows something about their secret mission that saw Terrier assassinate a Congolese minister.
Of course, it may have to do with Bardem’s Felix, because before the shooting takes place, we watch him giving doting eyes and loving touches to Annie (Jasmine Trinca), the beautiful girlfriend of Terrier. Strangely then, amid a couple major gunfights and brutal fistfights, The Gunman is a love story, as Terrier’s forced extraction abruptly ended his romance with Annie – and guess who was there to pick up the pieces?
Eventually the pace quickens, and Terrier is investigating what happened while being a target, the latter of which is more interesting and sensible than the former. It takes him from the Congo to London and then Barcelona and Gilbraltar, meeting more steely men in Idris Elba and Ray Winstone, as well as Peter Franzen’s dogged, deadly assassin. Terrier is also given a debilitating chronic headache, an annoying and unnecessary part of the plot that of course pops up and disappears whenever convenience dictates while trying to allude to the gravity of concussions.
This is about Penn though, brooding, protective, and reluctant, more viable mid-aged action hero than love interest. He alongside the other worthy actors buoy a generic plot and mundane script, and deft-direction by Pierre Morel save The Gunman was stalling out completely. Morel directed Taken, but his is a far more grounded, somber film that mostly lacks enjoyment, save for a couple smirks and barbs sent from Bardem who embraces being drunk on love and alcohol.
While exceeding telegenic (action, actors, and vistas are beautiful), everything else is mediocre, a blending of the grave and ridiculous, the romantic and the tragic, the brutally realistic and the fantastically absurd. Of course, we don’t want to get too harsh on this film: these men are not to be trifled with.