The Gunman isn’t terrible and some interesting ideas but the execution was lacking through Sean Penn gives a solid performance though the supporting cast was a complete waste especially Ray Winstone and Idris Elba, neither of whose talents were adequately tapped in to. The Blu-ray released by Universal is a tad weak with no bonus features but the audio and video transfers are both excellent.
Genre(s): Action, Drama
Universal | R – 115 min. – $34.98 | June 30, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
The Gunman, the latest action-thriller from Pierre Morel, director of Taken, is a film with plenty of potential with a respectable cast all squandered with a lackluster story (co-adapted from Jean-Patrick Manchette’s novel by Penn) and heavy-handed geo-politics. There are only a few saving graces, one of them being Sean Penn, but even he’s so dour that it’s really hard to even enjoy yourself…
The film is centered on Jim Terrier (SEAN PENN), a member of a protection team, which also includes Stanley (RAY WINSTONE) and Cox (MARK RYLANCE), an NGO (non-organized government agency) in the corrupt and chaotic Republic of Congo but in reality they’re there is as an assassin squad.
Their latest assignment, headed by a civilian contractor named Felix (JAVIER BARDEM), is to take out the Congo Minister of Mines who is implementing a policy that all non-nationals must reapply for mining rights. As a sniper, Terrier is assigned to kill the minister but in doing so, he must leave the continent and go into hiding. This also means leaving behind, with nary a goodbye, to his love – and lover – Annie (JASMINE TRINCA) who doesn’t know his real occupation.
Eight years later, Terrier is back in the Congo working for an NGO, legitimately, fixing drills and such, when a rebel rolls into the village, machete in hand, looking for the “white man” and after a hand to hand fight, against two attackers, it’s apparent this person was after Terrier specifically. It’s also apparent that his past has come back to haunt him so he travels to London to meet up with Stanley, who is now a corporate man, in the hopes of finding out what is going on. This soon leads to his first lead, Felix, who may know the individuals who initially hired them to kill the Congo minister.
In globe-trotting fashion, Terrier travels to Spain in order to deal with Felix and get more information when, during reconnaissance, he shockingly discovers Annie is now married to Felix. What was a mission for Intel turns into a love triangle. After some awkward moments, including Annie being shocked to see Terrier, in which Felix rubs his and Annie’s relationship in Terrier’s face, he does eventually agree to help.
After Annie visits Terrier in his low key hideout and after a soft core sex scene between the pair, she invites him out to their country home. Once he arrives, Terrier does get some important information involving the DOJ and a Congressional investigation into the events surrounding the assassination and Terrier’s name is on the list, thus why he’s being targeted as the company behind it needs to clean house.
That’s pretty much the plot behind The Gunman and there was plenty of potential but courtesy of a lousy story and the misuse of a really good cast, it’s just such a mundane and forgettable flick. Sean Penn is quite good and even now in his mid-50s still can kick ass and make it look believable (and I would pay to see him and Neeson share the screen together). However, as I said before, he is such a dour guy playing an equally dour character that’s really hard to enjoy especially set against a heavy-handed political plotline which doesn’t make much of an impact (see the Bourne movies and their abilities to mix politics with kick ass action).
However, what’s more disappointing is the supporting cast: Javier Bardem has a few good scenes and he’s plays up a douche-baggery quite effectively but he’s out of the picture relatively early and probably only has about 15 minutes of screen time; Ray Winstone’s talents is yet again wasted (see Noah) but the film truly comes to life in his few scenes and finally Idris Elba… yeah, he’s even has fewer screen time compared to Bardem and doesn’t come into full effect until about the third act.
Pierre Morel previously directed Taken and that material was more than suitable for his talents but The Gunman I think wanted to be something more and instead we get material which a more accomplished filmmaker, perhaps a Greengrass (sans shaky cam), Carnahan or even Liman, would’ve propelled the story a bit more. As it stands, it’s a perfectly serviceable action-er but nothing more and certainly nothing memorable.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Save for the standard Digital HD redemption code and a DVD Copy, this release did not come with any special features.
VIDEO – 4.75/5
The Gunman takes aim on Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture definitely has a warmer vibe to it which I think is typical of a Universal release. Colors tend to be mild without giving way to bright or brilliant colors and veering more toward natural tones. Detail levels are rather sharp and there didn’t appear to be any major flaws like pixilation or aliasing.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The Dolby Atmos track, which decodes to a TrueHD 7.1 track for those systems unable to handle Atmos, sounds fantastic. The dialogue levels are crisp and clean but where this lossless track comes to life is with the various action scenes where gunfire erupts and explosions blast providing for excellent depth. But even the more nuanced scenes showcase ambient noises and other off-screen elements.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, The Gunman isn’t terrible and some interesting ideas but the execution was lacking through Sean Penn gives a solid performance though the supporting cast was a complete waste especially Ray Winstone and Idris Elba, neither of whose talents were adequately tapped in to. The Blu-ray released by Universal is a tad weak with no bonus features but the audio and video transfers are both excellent.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.