The Gunman

The Gunman Final Int 1-sheet High Res
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Mark Rylance, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and Jasmine Trinca
In Cinemas March 20th, 2015

by Amanda Farley

Director Pierre Morel’s latest action film sees Sean Penn take a staring role as reformed mercenary Jim Terrier. With both co-screenwriting and producing credits to boot, this film is very much a Penn fueled enterprise. It has everything you would expect from the genre and yet fails to be anything special. In truth, it feels like a bland vanity project, which aspires to political heights but only manages to be a showreel for Penn and his (let’s face it, rather impressive) body.

Opening in 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jim’s work life is a moral grey area. Leading a double existence he balances legitimate employment with a darker side career as a hitman. It’s not all gloom though and he does have his beautiful girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca), an aid worker to add lightness to his life. However, an assassination changes everything and Jim is forced to leave her behind.

Years pass and Jim is now busy atoning for his mistakes, but when the past refuses to remain forgotten, his redemption is thrown into disarray. After he is attacked in the jungle by hired muscle, it’s clear someone has a hit out on him. As he visits his old associates, he becomes caught in a race against time to save himself and the woman he loves.

The script is flimsy at best. Half-hearted in its attempts to address either the political or romantic aspects of the story, everything is sacrificed to serve the action. Which in itself is not problematic, the only issue is that in terms of pulse-racing moments, the audience is constantly disappointed. Everything has been done before and better. For example, scenes of bull fighting create visually interesting shots but the lack of character development, poor writing and uninspired plot twists depletes what little goodwill the audience might have had left.

With such an amazing cast including Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance, it is a shame there wasn’t a better script to work with. Elba and Winstone particularly stand out. Their natural charisma shines through despite the questionable dialogue they have to work with. It’s not a terrible film, it’s just not a very good one.

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