Basically, The Gunman is a movie that asks audiences to sympathize with the equivalent of Lee Harvey Oswald — that is, an Oswald who definitely did it. Oddly enough, it succeeds, partly because the moral climate it presents seems so confused, but mainly because of Penn’s particular aura of irascible integrity. He’s the most irritated action hero since Harrison Ford.
I saw the "The Gunman" in a cinema chair. For me it was simply one of the best movies I've seen lately. The story and the suspense held me to the chair until the end of the movie. In the background there is much reality that is unknown in the interests of a large multinational and its ability to achieve its goals. Great movie.
This was a great "action" movie. Compared to modern actions flicks of today, this one far exceeds the norm. Great production quality really ties together the momentum of the story with a solid performance from Sean. Other actors seem to fall flat when placed juxtaposition with Sean. Either they are making him look really good, or they were just terrible. You decide.
Personally, I will take this any day to the "Bourne" series and the lackluster James Bond Flicks of late.
With a script co-written by Penn himself and based on a well-regarded novel by the late French crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette, this one has to have some meat to go along with the gunplay, right? Sadly, no.
It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in general when the main character, sometime in the third act, says, “I did some bad things ... ” and stares off into the middle distance, the implied end of the sentence is “including this movie.”
The result is a relentlessly dour film livened up only by Bardem’s shameless scenery-chewing and the occasional jolt of action. Otherwise, it’s an endless frown of a movie that does little but confirm that Penn’s talents, while impressive, aren’t limitless.
For meat-headed incoherence, a badly written, poorly directed and confusingly acted muddle of global nonsense, The Gunman is another ill-conceived entry in the latest dopey trend of middle-aged men blowing up stuff.
When an assassin becomes a target!
It was not bad, but the same old stuff that we'd seen in so many other films. It was actually based on the book and directed by the 'Taken' filmmaker. An international project, takes place in three different countries, but opens and ends in Congo. It centres on an assassin who had successfully executed a high-profile job in Africa. But a few years later, after giving up those kind of work, all the sudden it comes back to haunt him when some unknown men comes looking for him. So he decides to find who's behind it and why.
Even though it is a familiar theme, very much enjoyable. But the problem is the hero remains unhurt and somebody else dies for him which so cliché. The acting was good, and obviously that is Sean Penn in the lead. The action sequences were okay, but the pace of the film was the reason for me to sit on-board for over 100 minutes.
So if you are not expecting a good story and the stunts, it will do okay, particularly for the time pass. Yes, it had a chance to become a better film, but I think it wanted to replicate the book which is a couple of decades old and in the meantime pieces from it was used in the different films, hence this one looked so old. The critics did not like it, but it is much better than they say, as well as not good as some people claim.
Good production on the vistas and action sequences, but lackluster story and imprecise use of the veteran actors hamper the movie. With credible cast touring different memorable cities, the film is visually engaging for most of the time. It also delivers a couple of devastating action choreography of Bourne level. However, it trudges through bland story of stereotypical espionage and uninteresting romance. While the collective acting prowess is barely able to keep the film interesting, these experienced actors surprisingly don't perform consistently enough to fully maximize their potential.
Story follows Terrier (Sean Penn), a secret operative who fled an African country after an assassination. Years later this come back to haunt as someone cleans up everyone who are involved of said assassination. Strangely, the thriller invests majority of the content for romance subplot between Terrier and Annie (Jasmine Trinca), the ex-lover who might still harbor feelings. These two don't have a lot of chemistry. Their characters are plain and one-dimensional, a rugged volatile man and his static wooden love interest.
It also creates needless love triangle plot that offers nothing but awkwardness, audience will know what to expect and still cringe at the execution. Credit to Javier Bardem as Felix, the love adversary of Terrier. He delivers the best performance with his enigmatic yet not-so-charismatic role. His character here might not be supremely likeable nor does he have lengthy appearance, but he's fascinating in every scene he graces. Idris Elba is always engaging, but he only makes brief appearance, even shorter than Bardem.
The bulk of the film rests on Sean Penn, who is undeniably a good actor and looking physically fit for this role, although he doesn't seem to be comfortable here. This kind of ex-special force gimmick isn't his forte and the way he interacts with Trinca's Annie is rigid. These two just don't mesh together, despite numerous erotic scenes. Penn is looking anguished or tormented while Trinca is all sad and confused all the time. It's just odd, and to make matter worse, their relationship is supposed to be the heart of the film.
Penn does better with the action. The movie has cool cinematography and choreography. It spans throughout many cities, which are portrayed with decent amount of flamboyant touches for their signature looks. Set pieces transition well, the film moves nicely when it's not encumbered by the banter. Action is produced with significant effort, they are fast and precise, exceptionally thrilling when strikes or bullets landed.
Unfortunately, the film also overreaches with political undertone. Its message might be more welcomed if it could at least make the audience relate to the core characters. The Gunman offers shooting spree across exotic places aplenty, but with such caliber cast, it could've been more than just an average spy thriller.
It's unfair to say "The Gunman" is a bad film. After all, it's expertly shot, scored and edited. The actors authentically portray their characters and Sean Penn, expectedly, is exceptional as Jim Terrier. The plot is credible once we accept that, like most movies, it's a work of fiction. Yet "The Gunman" still fails on a thematic level. It's major problem is that it lacks focus. It attempts to provide a character study within the context of a political thriller through the convention of an action film.
A brief summary is necessary: Jim Terrier works for a private security company that is part of a conspiracy network to assassinate unfriendly political officials in developing countries. So, the company orders Terrier to murder a political official, which he does, and he then flees the country. Several years later Terrier feels remorseful and then tries to redeem himself through honorable non-profit work. Yet, his life is then threatened and he uses his special operations skills to identify and shatter the conspiracy network that is behind it.
In the process, he confronts a jealous friend and a former girlfriend that still loves him but feels betrayed by his earlier abandonment. Simultaneously, American congressmen and INTERPOL investigate the now esteemed private security company over its alleged past misdeeds. Because by representing the financial interests of its clients, it instigated and compounded the problems that plagued the developing country, in this case the DRC, insofar as resource exploitation, government corruption and civil war are concerned. It's implied that developing countries continue to be exploited by financial interests that rely on private military contractors to resolve their political problems.
I commend "The Gunman" for its ambitions and for presenting a restrained yet suspenseful action thriller. But because it attempts to tackle all of the themes above, it fails in successfully addressing any of them. So, the viewer leaves the theatre apathetic and confused. He asks, what exactly is the point of this movie? And unfortunately, one can't use the excuse that ambiguity is its point and justify it on the principle that its dealing with complex matters.
In "The Gunman", Sean Penn, as lead actor, co-writer and producer, attempted to use the action genre to create a more serious and meaningful film. And yes, it's more interesting, credible and substantive than "The Equalizer" or "John Wick." But unfortunately, his attempt failed and the film, if anything, is disappointing.
Generally interesting concept but poorly done, averagely acted and badly developed plot. Sean Penn is not a convincing muscle tough guy and apparently he only ages by shaving his beard thing... only to be watched if the only other option is being stuck in a lift with a big man suffering terminal flatulence.
Sean Penn has consistently been one of the best actors in Hollywood for the past twenty years but since he won an Oscar in 2008 for Milk he seemed to cutback on the roles he's been playing and many of these roles were supporting characters. The Gunman is Penn's return to a leading role where he seems to be taking a page out of Liam Neeson's book and looking to become an action star now that he has aged. Pierre Morel, the director of the original Taken film, is the director for the Gunman which had me interested but sadly the film just does hold up. The plot is sub-par and confusing in many places. The action isn't bad but its not going to be making any headlines and the characters are forgettable despite a pretty strong cast. The trailers promised a lot in this film that was almost non existent in the film. Idris Elba was one of the top billed characters in the film despite getting about 2 minutes of screen time in the film. The action is also often replaced with boring and cheesy drama and no one wants to see that.
Open Road Films (II),
Prone Gunman A.I.E.,
TF1 Films Production,
Amazon Prime Video,
Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA),
Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (ICEC),
BFI Film Fund,
Televisió de Catalunya (TV3)