A former assassin tries to escape his past.
The Gunman is a totally weird film. One minute it seems to be labouring a political message about corruption in Africa, the next its oogling Sean Penn’s (admittedly impressive) man boobs. Then Javier Bardem says crazy things, Mark Rylance steals a scene or two and it all ends with symbolic and actual bullfighting for some reason.
Despite the constant does of daft, it’s all terrifically dull. There are long speeches about nothing at all, and a meagre story stretched to an inane 115 minute running time. The dialogue is unnatural and forced and locations pop up seemingly at the whim of the best tax breaks.
Worse still are the characters. I’ve rarely seen a film of any sort with so little consistency in its players – there’s no rhyme or reason for what they do or how they do it. And no character fares worse than Jasmine Trinca’s Annie. She’s nothing more than an object for sexing and peril, wandering limply from one scene to the next. And the narrative from her perspective is a horrorshow of sexual violence, abandonment and near-death experiences.
Bardem, Idris Elba, and Ray Winstone are all totally wasted, with only Rylance managing to redeem himself with some late-on monologuing. He’s great, he should be in more things. Penn is there, with the body of an action figure (seriously) and a face like a palsied stone. He’s not required to work for the role so he doesn’t, speaking the words and hitting his marks and shooting people in the face a bit.
For what its worth, the shooting is pretty decent. Bullets fly and the results are surprisingly grim, especially in a world where the Taken series has gone PG-13. But it’s all total nonsense, with no consequences, terrible geography and distracting CG gore.
The Gunman isn’t worth recommending to even the most ardent action fans, go watch Taken instead.