Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sean Penn, Jasmine Trinca, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Idris Elba, Peter Franzén, Daniel Adegboyega
Written by: Don MacPherson, Pete Travis, Sean Penn, based on a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette
Directed by: Pierre Morel
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexuality
Running Time: 115
Date: 03/20/2015

The Gunman (2015)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Point and Shoot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Pierre Morel, best known for his lightweight, fast-paced action films for Luc Besson (District B13, Taken, and From Paris with Love), attempts The Gunman on his own, adding a new kind of weight and seriousness. And while it's an admirable attempt at a more grown-up type of entertainment, this movie winds up feeling rather leaden.

In 2006, former Special Forces soldier Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is paid to assassinate the minister of mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As part of the deal, he is forced to flee and leave behind his girlfriend, Annie (Jasmine Trinca). In the present day, he is back working in the Congo as a humanitarian, digging wells. A band of goons attempts to kill him, and he surmises that the attack is connected to his former life. He tracks down several old colleagues, Stanley (Ray Winstone), Cox (Mark Rylance), and Felix (Javier Bardem), the latter of whom married Annie in Jim's absence. Without knowing who to trust and with time running out, Jim must stay a jump ahead of his foes to keep himself, and Annie, alive.

While Sean Penn is certainly one of the most dedicated and professional actors in the world, he can't bring a much-needed vulnerability or warmth to the project. Not to mention that, though the tone puts more strain on the plot to be tight and relevant, it begins to feel confusing and ridiculous in spots. Morel's action directing is fast-paced, but perhaps a bit clunky. His dedication to the actors, on the other hand, is strong, and the great cast members each get moments to shine. Stage star Mark Rylance in particular gives what could be a breakout performance, but even so The Gunman overall is not quite recommended.

Best Buy Co, Inc.