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The Gunman: Review

The Gunman: Review

Starring: Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Jasmine Trinca, Melina Matthews, Ray Winstone (Rated MA – 115 min).

After an understated return to the big screen as the photographic muse for Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, all film buffs should rejoice as one of the truly great modern day actors Sean Penn headlines a movie once again.

Now for the bad news, what Taken successfully did to reinvent mature thespian Liam Neeson into a brutal no-nonsense action man, Gunman fails to competently do for Penn.

After an elite sniper known as Terrier takes on a job from an unknown client to kill a Congo parliamentarian, a snowball effect of revenge forces him into hiding from a hit squad intent on his downfall. Leaving his quiet life laying low surfing and building wells for the unfortunate, Terrier gets the urge to discover the identity of the assassins who put a price on his head and travels around reconnecting with his old crew of sharpshooters including ex-flame Annie (Jasmine Trinca).

A shallow European spy adventure ensues with a dour Penn as this literally brain-damaged professional killer jumps through the obvious loopholes in the plot coming out the other side as the anti-hero but he is no Brian Mills. At least the shady unlikable villains are forceful enough gaining a degree of badness so when they actually are disposed of, no remorse is felt.

Spanish veteran Javier Bardem ignites the scenes he appears in while Italian glamour Jasmine Trinca brings continental sheen to Annie, former lover of Terrier with looks of an angel, but deadly beyond measure. What should be full on action sequences often turn into mediocre chase scenes with a bit of fisticuffs reminiscent of a school yard dust up, the thrills are sparse.

Turning 55 this year, Oscar winner Penn still has the agility. Doubting his acting prestige is futile, the uneven plot does him no favours but class reigns. Amongst this uneven mess he turns in a masterful performance, it’s the so called high voltage action moments which fail to spark. 

Shane A. Bassett

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