WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Helmed by “Taken” director Pierre Morel and based on the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, the story initially begins in the Congo circa 2006, where special forces sniper Terrier (Sean Penn) works as part of a security force protecting aid workers. However, their presence there has another agenda, and once that mission is carried out, Terrier is forced to leave the country as well as his love Annie (Jasmine Trinca). Fast forward eight years and Terrier, having returned to the Congo, finds himself the target from unknown sources, most likely associated with the mission years ago that caused such unrest. Heading to London, he links up with former members of the unit involved at that time, including Cox (Mark Rylance), Felix (Javier Bardem), and Stanley (Ray Winstone) in an effort to find out whose behind it. Adding to this is a reuniting with Annie and a medical complication that begins to surface. But as Terrier begins to dig deeper into matters, a subsequent trip to Barcelona and Felix’s home reveals involvements that make it clear someone wants them all silenced. Soon, Terrier and Annie find themselves on the run and fighting for their lives, with more and more revelations coming as the pieces of the puzzle fuse together and the players become aware of the threat Terrier poses. With everything to lose, and an Interpol agent (Idris Elba) bringing more pressure on him, Terrier must face what secrets to reveal, to whom, and at what cost to those closest to him.
With quite a solid cast behind it, and even knowing going in that the film wasn’t going to tread on any new ground, “The Gunman” ultimately takes on a more violent, language-laden, and not as well done tone of “Taken”, and therefore ends up in the realm of mediocrity for this reviewer. Sure, several of the action/fight sequences are frenetic and chaotic as one might expect, admittedly entertaining. But then the film also attempts to actually have depth of story, and it comes up short, as it just isn’t original enough to do so. Penn is solid as Terrier, bringing the pain to those who’ve wronged him in a myriad of ways that John Wick would be proud of, and even the dramatic moments are served well by him. The same can be said about the supporting cast as well, but again, it all is just “there”. And it’s a general theme/plot we’ve seen done a thousand times, more recently in movies like “John Wick” and “The Equalizer“, where revenge is the driving force, but done more engagingly so. This effort seemed run-of-the-mill despite its cast’s pedigree, and all of them have done much better material than this. In summary, “The Gunman” is good for some action, low on plot points, and will most likely end up being ranked in the “so-so” and “just ordinary” categories when it comes to comparing it with its action/drama film cohorts.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!