The Gunman is an action film that falls short on all aspect including the action. Sean Penn’s first rodeo into action films delivers boredom rather than action.
Just as info, this is Sean Penn’s first ever action film. And you can see how he really prepared physically for it. Several scenes in the film will get you to stare at Penn’s ripped body and biceps. But those can only do so much to help this movie rise.
Initially, the film looks great with a lot of heavy hitting actors like Oscar winner Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and the gorgeous Jasmine Trinca. They even got the director of the first Taken film, Pierre Morel to helm the film. But alas, it didn’t turn out what they and we had hoped for.
The film features a lot of interesting characters. But these characters were not fully developed. Sean Penn plays Jim Terrier, a sniper working for a private security firm who ups and leaves Congo after killing the Minister of Mining. From that point, we no longer get a deeper look at his background. All we know is that he has sniper training and had too many concussions to cause several headaches and blackouts. He lacks mystery.
Unlike Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills in Taken, he clearly states that he has a “special set of skills,” which got us hooked from the moment he said those words. The mystery is there like who did he worked for, what skills is he talking about but for Penn’s Terrier, all we know is he’s ex-military who is a good marksman. They didn’t even bother to show us his military background.
The same goes for all the supporting characters. We get no mystery and they are underdeveloped. A lot could have worked if character development was greatly focused on.
The Gunman also suffers from poor pacing. After the first 20 minutes, the film starts to drag. You expect a film like this to start out flat and continually rise but it doesn’t. We are first immersed on the conflict in the Congo which the main plot of the film revolves around. Then we get assassination, 8 years later we go back to the Congo where there is another assassination attempt and then we hop around the world from London to Spain then going back to the Congo to end the film. The locations are great but what happens while we are in those countries is just boring. The flow of the story and the plot slows down after an action event. It’s as if the story relaxes a bit after some heavy gun fights and punches but never really gets back on its feet.
Now given this is an action film, the action should be great or memorable. But it too falls flat. I’m not saying that films like these should get over the top action sequences but they should at least deliver action scenes which will get you hooked and force yourself to not blink because you might miss something. For me the best action sequence is at the end where Terrier fights an agent with a knife and his fists. But the rest are plainly generic. Nothing promises excitement in the gun fights. The film is called The Gunman but we won’t see Penn doing anything memorable with a gun.
The Gunman was an attempt to mimic the success of Taken. Taken’s plot revolved around human trafficking but what added intrigue to it is Liam Neeson’s character. Now in The Gunman, we got assassinations and mining natural resources but the character of Penn didn’t resonate enough to bring the plot to life. All we get is a slow moving story telling with a somewhat predictable story given that we got a limited number of characters left alive.
The Gunman could have been a start if a franchise but due to predictable story and under developed characters, we won’t probably see Jim Terrier fight more bad guys. He will live the quite life working for an NGO in the Congo. Well, at least he gets the girl in the end.
I give it 5 out of 10.