A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, working for an unknown client, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier's (Sean Penn's) successful kill shot forces him to go into hiding to protect himself and the members of the team from retribution. This includes abruptly abandoning his girlfriend who has no idea what is going on. The assassination, paid for by a foreign mining company, triggers wide spread chaos and death in an already inflamed Congo. Terrier returns to the Congo years later working for an NGO, but eventually finds himself to be the target of a paid hit squad somehow connected to the ministers assassination. This leads to immediate deaths and the endangerment of the people working around him, and forces him back into hiding. In trying to discover who has put a price on his head, he begins to reconnect to the members of his old assassination team, including his old girlfriend. Always aware there is no path to redemption for his crimes, he is also periodically incapacitated by a type of accumulated and evolving physical brain damage caused by the hard knocks of his occupation. Unexpectedly, given the time that has elapsed, his reconnection to his old assassination team exposes additional intrigues with immediate deadly consequences. All of his years spent in hiding, have merely delayed the twisted end game that now enfolds.
A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier's successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.
In the same grain as "The American" and "The International", "THE (notice a trend?) Gunman" is a international thriller/action. Where the former 2 films focus more on the thrill, and are overall failures, Gunman is more action, and much more entertaining. If you are looking for a fairly low commitment to a 'smart' action movie, then you can do worse.
In 2006, Terrier (Penn) works for a global corporation (that might as well be called Umbrella Corporation) and is asked to kill a high ranking diplomat. The movie then skips ahead to the present where Terrier is not being chased down by unknown assailants. Nothing original there.
Terrier (Penn) is a likable character. Penn tends to be an actor your either hate or love, but he is does a good job as a grittier, more realistic Jason Borne. The movie ties to humanize him, but that side plot is mostly a thud. After Penn, the cast is stellar - however underutilized. It really is the peak of 'hey that guy' British actors. Unfortunately, Elba who gets second billing is in the movie for 2 scenes total and less than 3 minutes screen time, a role that has so little to it that I might as well have played the character. Winstone and Bardem exist, but their talent is mostly wasted.
The movie is a step sideways from a classic action movie. If you like the Borne series and its fast paced action you likely won't enjoy the more 'realistic' violence of "The Gunman". Unfortunately, if you are not interested in the Borne series, this likely won't be of any more interest. I give the movie a 7, because I enjoyed it. It is far from perfect, I feel the movie definitely 'left sometime on the table' in terms of directing and acting, it misses often in character development, and the movie kind of devolves into cliché, but there is enough substance to watch. THE GUNMAN is the latest action thriller from Pierre Morel, the French director who helmed the outstanding TAKEN and DISTRICT 13. Since then he wobbled a bit with FROM Paris WITH LOVE with its silly, jokey storyline, but he's back on form with this deadly serious international thriller that has much in common with the modern-day likes of the Swedish HAMILTON films.
The story is clichéd and predictable but the film delivers more than adequate thrills and some great action sequences. Sean Penn is a former assassin who's trying to find out which of his former colleagues has betrayed him and sent a hit squad to take him out. To make him a bit more vulnerable, he's studying from a rare form of concussion which makes him lose it every time his head gets knocked about.
THE GUNMAN is quite a lengthy film but it keeps you watching throughout and the location photography in the Congo and Barcelona is well handled. The supporting cast is also a good one with turns for reliably solid Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, and quite surprisingly Mark Rylance, who fits well into the genre despite being better known as a theatre actor. Sean Penn isn't my favourite guy around thanks to his outspoken political views but even I can admit he's a good choice for the part in this. Thanks to ‘Taken’ director Pierre Morel, this too often feels like just another slice of brainless Eurotrash, packed with saw-it-coming plot twists, half-hearted car chases and an angsty hero with mega muscles and zero charisma. a5c7b9f00b
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