Film Review by Jon E Clist
A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, working for an unknown client, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier's (Sean Penn) successful kill shot forces him to go into hiding to protect himself and the members of the team from retribution. This includes abruptly abandoning his girlfriend who has no idea what is going on. The assassination, paid for by a foreign mining company, triggers widespread chaos and death in an already inflamed Congo. Terrier returns to the Congo years later working for an NGO, but eventually finds himself to be the target of a paid hit squad somehow connected to the minister's assassination. This leads to immediate deaths and the endangerment of the people working around him, and forces him back into hiding. In trying to discover who has put a price on his head, he begins to reconnect to the members of his old assassination team, including his old girlfriend.
Over the years Sean Penn has certainly made some great film role choices. I am thinking of titles such as I Am Sam, Milk and 21 Grams as just a few that stand out. So when you see a new film with him in the lead, you can’t help but feel a little excited. I am sure that for all of us there is a list of actors/actresses that fall into this category of ‘must-follows’ film careers. I would imagine that Sean Penn would appear on quite a lot of people's lists. In The Gunman Penn continues to bring the intensity to his role as a man who must live with his past mistakes while trying to make up for in the present.
Overall I enjoyed the film in regards to it's basic premise and flow, however at times it feels a little as though the director wrote the style and pace notes inverted. Times when the film could do with a little more intensity while at other times a little slower pace would have helped to draw you further and deeper into the plot.
Javier Bardem does a great job of creating a character that you can't help but distrust and want to face the wrath of karma. It takes a special kind of actor to truly pull off a role like this and be completely believable. Of course the great cast doesn't start and stop with Penn and Bardem. Adding further weight to the cast is the always fabulous Ray Winstone in that "Call on a mate to help out" kind of role. His gritty voice and rough as guts gangster feel always gives you hope that the good guys will overcome whatever is thrown at them.
The film had a similar feel to The Constant Gardener but lacked the well rounded story line and not as intensely developed. The political intrigue teases your attention but doesn't fully deliver and hence there isn't the full sense satisfaction to be felt as the film comes to its climactic ending. That being said, this has been filmed in some stunning locations including Barcelona and The Congo. These stunning backdrops help to draw you into the story in a clever way. I guess this is something that director Pierre Morel has created a name for himself with his first massive forays into the thriller genre, Taken and From Paris With Love.
A solid political thriller that at times leaves you feeling as though something is missing and yet overall still enjoyable.
Releases: 30th April 2015
Rating: R16 – Contains Graphic violence & offensive language
Duration: 115 minutes
Starring: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Melina Matthews, Jasmine Trinca
Director: Pierre Morel (From Paris With Love, Taken)
Sean Penn had been seeking to work with Mark Rylance for a very long time. He invited him to join the movie and agreed to arrange the shooting schedules according to Rylance's availability.
Second movie where 'Javier Bardem' plays a character named Felix. The other is Collateral (2004).
A closing-credits caveat acknowledges the fact that in Barcelona bullfighting have been banned for years.
Based on the novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette.