|Sean Penn in The Gunman|
Sean Penn, is an interesting actor. He's performed a wide range of characters since the early 80's. He's played a pot head with Big Kahuna aspirations (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), an overacting pretty boy with a comb (Colors), a coke snorting lawyer with a Jew fro (Carlito's Way), a repentant rapist with a southern drawl (Dead Man Walking), a Bostonian mini-mafia king mourning his daughter's murder (Mystic River), and one time, he even went full retard (I Am Sam).
He was also was good as a gay politician in the 70's (Milk). It seems that when Mr. Penn applies himself to a role, he runs away with it. Other times though, I'm not sure of how much his heart is really invested (Shanghai Surprise, We're No Angels, The Interpreter).
Movie Review-The Gunman, is one of Penn's films where you can see the effort that he put into the role but, not in the proper areas. The effort that I'm referring to, is of his physical appearance and not his character's range instead. With Penn being a man in his fifties, I can appreciate him taking care of his body and not letting time & gravity win the battle. Of course, a multi-million dollar salary does make a rigorous workout schedule easier to bear. Penn spends most of this film as a quiet mumbler that speaks only when spoken to.
I find it kind of difficult to root for the film's hero when he act's more like a robot, and less like a human being. What I did root for, was the movie itself. For the first two acts, The Gunman is an intriguing action thriller, set in many different locations. There were times during the action scenes that I was actually feeling anxious for Penn's character. That's probably because he wasn't talking at those moments.
What makes up for Penn's lack of charisma, is his supporting cast. Italian actress Jasmine Trinca, as Penn's love interest, isn't overemotional, nor is she misused for most of the film. The love story that surrounds Penn and Trinca is left more to facial expressions and gestures, than just verbally emoting for effect.
What blows their relationship (and this film) out of the water, is the performance of Javier Bardem (Skyfall). He plays his character so well that when he's absent from the screen, the film (especially the third act) suffers. Same goes for Ray Winstone (Beowulf). He's a comfortable side character that gets squandered later on. Lastly, Idris Elba (Luther) as an Interpol agent, is interesting but scarcely used to the point that you wonder why he was even cast in the first place.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of The Gunman
The Good- Bardem's intensity, the sniper hit, the drill attack, hunting at the villa, and the Claymore rope-a-dope.
The Bad- The third act loses steam, boring and predictable. The bullfight ending pretty much sealed the deal.
The Ugly- Penn's PTSD fits he had throughout the film. I swear that those were added in post-production when the studio saw how dull Penn's character was. There are people trying to kill him constantly. He doesn't need another obstacle for dramatic affect.
Final Thoughts on The Gunman
This film was very disappointing because of how well it starts and then ends with a fizzle. See this at home and shut it off about eighty minutes into it. You won't miss a thing.
Rating- 5.5 out of 10
The Gunman (2015)
R | 1h 55min | Action, Crime, Drama | 20 March 2015 (USA)
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.
Director: Pierre Morel
Writers: Jean-Patrick Manchette (novel), Don MacPherson (screenplay)
Stars: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Jasmine Trinca