Friday, October 9, 2015

The Gunman

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gunman is a good guy with a gunman.

The Gunman – 2 out of 5

When I think of action stars, Sean Penn isn’t the first actor that comes to mind.  In fact, he’s very, very low on the list—so low, in fact, that he’s probably on the same level as Jim Parsons  or that guy from Blue’s Clues…either of them.  That’s no knock on the acting ability of Penn because the dude is a great actor—how good?  His talents made us all forget he once kidnapped Madonna and held her hostage.  Anyway, he’s usually the guy you see in super dramatic features…or as an iconic surfer dude in one of the greatest high school coming-of-age films ever produced.  However, the trailer for The Gunman made Penn look like a badass and past credits on an IMDb page doesn’t necessarily dictate whether an actor can branch out and play a legitimate badass because I have been surprised over and over again.  In fact, Penn’s badassness he shows might be one of the best parts about this film.

Play this for the full effect that fits with this face.

Seems like ever lover of Penn's, both real and fictional,
find themselves in danger after getting involved with him.
A former soldier working as a humanitarian in the Congo named Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is called in to assassinate a prominent leader in the area.  8 years later after spending time in hiding, Jim is trying to once again bring aid to the area but he suddenly finds his past catching up to him and someone wants him dead.  Things only get worse when it is revealed that he has an injury to his brain that leaves him dizzy and prone to collapsing and his former lover Annie (Jasmine Trinca) is in danger of getting caught up in the mix.  Now Jim must get assistance from the only friends he has left before the authorities come after him but the problem is he no longer knows who he can trust.

But you know who you can trust?  Anyone brave enough to wear that hat
in public.

Like I said, the trailer made Penn look pretty B.A. in this film and, judging from the fact it was directed by Pierre Morel –the man who showed us the particular set of skills that Liam Neeson proved to be a natural at and, simultaneously, was smart enough to not get involved with the Taken sequels—there was a chance this film could have been amazing.  Granted, I didn’t think The Gunman was a terrible movie but it just wasn’t as incredible as it could should have been.

It feels wholly unnecessary that her shirt that is that unbuttoned.

The film offers up some great fight scenes and Penn surely looks the part as he’s cracking skulls and pulling the trigger.  Additionally, the film has a fantastic cast with the likes of Ray Winstone (the man with such an awesome voice that I would love to have him narrate my life), Javier Bardem and Idris Elba (a man who seems to be forged entirely of acting talent, good looks and just a plain sense of being completely awesome).  Finally, the film has an interesting story that has all the makings of being a really killer film and all these elements put together made a film that was watchable and entertaining in many aspects and scenes but it did have enough weaknesses to stop it from being as good as this film was supposed to be.

In this picture, let's pretend that the man Sean Penn is beating up is
the metaphoric potential this film had...

Ray Winstone has a voice that makes everything sound
completely amazing.  I wanna hear him read Everybody
The few things that bothered me about this one is the fact that many of the supporting characters—like Elba, Bardem, and Winstone—aren’t given the screen time that their talent deserves.  Their characters play too small a role in Terrier’s journey to the point that their existence almost feels pointless and like they were tacked on so the film wasn’t just going to be Terrier and his ex-lover Annie.  Secondly, the film has the added portion to the story of Terrier’s past adventures resulting in a life-threatening injury that will greatly impede his attempt to stop whoever is behind the attempts on his and Annie’s lives.  This is a great idea in theory and it has its moments when it feels like it could be something but it really only comes into play twice and just feels like a weak writing excuse to weaken a clearly over-qualified leading hero who has, in reality, a very underwhelming antagonist at his heels.  It works only in the fact it brings Terrier down to the level of the bad guy but it feels like such a plot device that it does little to add to the story…it would have almost have been better if the bad dude just hired a lot of men to go against the former assassin.

Maybe this film didn't work as well as it could have because Bardem wasn't
sporting a completely fucking weird haircut.

Finally, the one thing that really hurt this film is the fact that this film’s story is fairly generic.  Everything from the ex-hitman/sniper just trying to live a quiet and helpful life to the angle of the former love to the reveal of who was behind the whole ordeal was very by-the-numbers and the film’s plot plays out very predictably.  Even when the film tries to throw in a red herring or tries to mislead you it all looks very executed and it leaves nothing to be surprised with.  I will concede that this film isn’t meant to be a film that throws you through twists and turns and then punches you in the face with a big and unexpected reveal but it didn’t need to come off as formulaic as it did.  Then, as if to already add further insult to injury the one time the film does change up the recipe is when the most obvious choice for the surprise antagonist is laid to waste (you know it’s the obvious bad guy as the film so blatantly tries to NOT make him obvious) and this demise is done in such a laughably bad way and in such a way that makes the hero’s victory feel completely empty and like his journey carried no emotional weight to it.  It really makes for an ending that just feels damn near pointless.

You know what else is pointless?  Putting goddamn Idris "Fucking" Elba in the film
and not utilizing the man's god-like acting talent!

The Gunman has some elements that does make it a serviceable film.  It may be predictable but it never gets too boring because the stars are great and the action is pretty rad.  However, with a very disappointing ending and a completely uninspired story and plot, the film just left me with an overwhelming feeling of meh.

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