When you hear a movie titled the Gunman what do you think of? For me I think of a few scenarios that come to mind: an action pack shoot em up movie, something on the lines of James Bond, or following down the rogue agent Bourne pathway. So I can’t help but say I was excited for this movie this weekend, especially with Sean Penn leading the cast. With few trailers to give me insight, I eagerly headed to my local theater to give this film a try.
Unfortunately the movie did not go down the expected path, and even worse it took the wrong direction for this reviewer. For those uncertain of the plot, Gunman is about a sniper named Terrier who is targeted for assassination by an unknown group. In order to save himself and his loved ones, he must dig deep into a convoluted scheme that may related back to an incident. I know sounds awesome right, if old hat, but Gunman held some promise of action mixed in with good old fashioned spying.
Not the case my friends. Gunman is actually a snooze fest, being one of the first movies to make me nap in almost half a year. It starts with the pace of the movie, not necessarily too slow, but just enough that you start to lose interest. For me, it wasn’t that the plot was boring, but the details they tried to lay out for us were very convoluted, many details ambiguous and confusing in their presentation. Many of the scenes involved him obsessing over his former love, which after a few arguments and an unnecessary sex scene, started to grow staler than month old bread. Now don’t get me wrong, convoluted plots can be a good thing, but they require a good presentation that keeps one engaged in the movie. And this film did not do it for me.
Perhaps I could have been entertained more if the action had lived up to my, I’ll admit, high expectations. The opening shot scene was nothing special, but the following skirmish held some promise for excitement down the line. And in truth, two or three battles brought the flash in the pot, bang in your ear entertainment that I so crave. Despite being an elite shooter, Terrier didn’t have perfect accuracy, and had to pull some creative stunts to take down his killers, who by the way could actually hit him. Taking away our hero’s invincibility was a smart move, but some battles get led down the wrong path, or are a repeat of an earlier fight. Kills are graphic, the camera not shying away from someone’s head getting a new hole, as torrents of red litter the ground. If you are up for this kind of stuff, then by all means stop reading this review and head down to the theater. Looking back over the movie though, I can’t say the action was as on point or exciting as I had hoped, nor as fast as these scenes sometime need to be.
Helping save this movie from complete failure was the acting. Sean Penn as Terrier was good. The actor was able to transition across the emotional spectrum, being a relief worker with a little troublemaker streak to an angry killer on the loose. Penn has always had a talent for playing well developed characters, and while annoying as this role is, he still plays it well. Jasmine Trica as Annie was a decent addition to the cast, though I must say her character could have been much stronger than they made her. Trica’s main talent involved huffing, puffing, and crying as people died. Her dialog was too shallow for me and they threw her as nothing but an object for Terrier to protect. Javier Barden brings his Hispanic background back to the screen, but his role was very short and unfortunately very sad as a love obsessed, drunk who loses his min. Not my favorite role, but again he does okay. As for Idris Elba, he is hardly in the film for fifteen minutes, really only to bring some “coded” advice and a means to end the movie. No offense Elba, but had you been tailing Penn for the whole movie, I might have boosted your score.
Special effects wise, the editing worked for me in this movie. Stable camera angles and detailed fighting helped bring the action to life. The battlefields that became the stage for our fights were also beautiful, crafted or located in a variety of settings. Some were cool like a mansion, and others were ridiculous, like at a matador arena. Nevertheless we had an epic soundtrack to add some slight touches of excitement to the mix, as well as high definition pings, twacks, and booms to nearly deafen your ears. Unfortunately the team’s cuts of the footage were nowhere near perfect for me, even though they were under the 2 hour mark. I don’t know why they kept half of the dialog heavy scenes in, especially when they kept us going in circles. Oh what a waste of good film.
The Gunman is not the movie I expected it to be, and despite the assembled cast of actors, the potential was lost by poor pace and story. With an overly ambiguous plot, and a pace that moves like a snail, the execution of this movie was below par. Those who are fans of extreme violence and profanity, as well as shots of African poverty are at home in this film, but otherwise skip this for something better. A trip to the theater is not recommended from me, but we all know enough desire can make you see anything.
Overall my scores for Gunman are:
Movie Overall: 5.5