film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Gunman 2015 * * Stars

The GunmanDirector: Pierre Morel
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Sean Penn, Mark Rylance, Jasmine Trinca

Sean Penn is a real badass in 2015's The Gunman. Heck, if Liam Neeson can pulverise any paperweight villain (into submission) at the age of 63, why can't Jeff Spicoli do the same at 55. He gives the usual, raw performance and his character is a humbled, ripped hitman that is made to be thoroughly likable.

Now "Gunman" with its cheesy dialogue and quick-minded plot workings, has a look that is sun-drenched and bright. It's crime drama playbook stuff. And in a mild relief, it's Taken with more of a story. However, the proceedings feel like a parable that's been told in revenge thrillers threefold. Director Pierre Morel revels in fast cutting. He wants to move things along faster than they needn't be. After a strong opening, everything becomes rote. We've seen all this before. Guy assassinates the wrong leader, guy gets framed, everyone is out to kill said guy, guy has a love interest he protects, guy takes on tons of baddies and finds various ways to avoid death. Oh and guy leads an alternate life that only few people know about. Sound familiar?

Using locales like Spain, Wimbledon, London, and South Africa, The Gunman chronicles one Jim Terrier (Sean "I got that weathered look" Penn). He kills people for a living, gets headaches from time to time that are life threatening, and I guess, digs wells for poor denizens on the side. When he assassinates the minister of the mines of Congo, he goes incognito and later finds himself the target of his own profession (a hit squad wants him dead some years later). He then tries to get info on his death warrant by way of a sniveling uber pal in Felix (played by Javier Bardem who does some severe overacting here). From then on, chaos ensues with Sean kicking ass and taking names. You can feel a lot of bones crack, a lot of bodies piling up, and plenty of silencers (a given inclusion in any contract dispatch).

For show, various actors fade in and out while giving us cliched turns (Idris Elba as an operative and Ray Winstone as a fellow killjoy). Plus, most of the cast members are made to look older (the flick pole votes eight years later) by way of just shaving their facial hair. I guess makeup artists need not apply.

The whole film ends in a vicious shootout a la a crowded bullfight. The blood flows like red wine and the fight scenes look like UFC contests that no human being could ever survive. The filmmakers seem bent on upping the violent content to levels deemed unrealistic. I didn't pump my fist in excitement. I just felt queasy and bored.

In the end, The Gunman isn't necessarily a vanity project for Sean Penn (like some critics have noted). It does however, calculate itself as his cash grab or his cashing in on the likes of what Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, and even Kevin Costner did 5 years ago. Basically, if you've seen The November Man (which is far superior) then you've seen this globetrotting mess of rushed ambivalence. Penn is formidable in the action scenes, creates admirably, a chain smoker with veritable head trauma, but his movement with the desolation of the diegesis, doesn't celebrate him like say, Denzel Washington (I forgot to mention The Equalizer). He kills people in the most savage way and while it's suppose to move you, it just equals an audience turnoff. Metaphorically speaking, there's no target to hit here and the ammo is at times, blanks. My rating: 2 stars.

Of note: There were so many instances when I thought Penn's medical condition would leave him to be executed or just leave him for dead. But walla, he just kept waking up. Yeah, we all know the so-called hero will never die, right? It's just baseline at this point. Honestly, Penn's Terrier came off as inhuman via a horror film starring Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. The fact that he recovers from the beatings he takes is flat out ludicrous.

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment