Saturday, June 20, 2015

Film Review: The Gunman (2015)

Copyright: Open Road Films
Right off the bat, the Gunman fails to properly present a time transition which bridges a 7-year period. In this timeframe, the main character goes from a mercenary and a cold blooded killer to a humanitarian well digger. But, the film is not able to present this jump in any other shape or form apart from shaving off Sean Penn’s mustache. As the story progresses, its director Pierre Morel continues to make mistakes basically in the same manner – he does what needs to be done, but the same simply does not successes in making an impression or being coherent with the broader story.

And the story is ripe with politics, danger and betrayal. Set in the Congo, England and Spain, it is worth of a thriller built on the Bourne model. Its action sequences are dynamic, fast and well crafted, providing the film with its main driving force. The talking part, however, is a lot more lukewarm and anemic, mostly because it struggles to focus on the plight of central Africa, the greed of the corporate white devils and the idea of the main character going through some form of repentance, all at the same time.

But, during his adventure where he leaves a trail of bodies behind him, Penn is equally unable to provide a tangible person. While he looked just fine in the trailers, the film’s full exposure of his character brought about a space filled with an alliance of movie tropes. He desires to be saved, but also resents his criminal deeds. The love of his life is the most important person in his universe, but he still left her in an African civil war. He is determined to find who is after him but does not have a clue what to do next. To say it mildly, the Gunman movie is not very convincing when it presents its most important element. 

While it does offer some excitement and unexpected action segments, it is clear that Pierre Morel is a lot better when it comes to presenting a series of combat vignettes similar to his Taken than a thriller dense with political context. Sean Penn, because of his interest in the plight of the Third world, must have been drawn to the script’s ideas. Judging on the success of The Gunman, he should probably find other ways of sharing his ideas about the issues of Africa and other not-so-well-to-do  places.

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