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Spain/United Kingdom/France 2015
Directed by
Pierre Morel
115 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

The Gunman

Synopsis:  After mercenary assassin Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) kills the Congolese Cabinet Minister he goes into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later to do humanitarian work he becomes the target of a hit squad so he sets out to discover who wants him eliminated.

Italian actress, Jasmine Trinca, is a fresh presence here but she is the only thing that is in a direly formulaic action film whose only other notable feature is its mind-numbing dullness. Much as Brad Pitt did with Fury, leading man, co-producer (and co-scriptwriter!) Sean Penn tries to turn himself into an action hero and manages only to squander a considerable line of credit he has established with audiences as a dramatic actor of substance with an eye for good material.  

Simply because you’ve seen it all before there is very little to say about this poorly-scripted film.  There’s a generic war-torn African state backdrop, a globe-trotting mission, friends who can be relied upon, friends who can’t, expendable goons, gory martial arts violence and bouts of ear-drum-splitting gunfire, all delivered with a complete lack of inventiveness by director Pierre Morel. Morel unexpectedly turned a middle-aged Liam Neeson into Action Jackson in the first Taken movie and that clearly is why he was hired here but he fails abysmally to do the same for Penn who in terms of star-power comes across as strictly a 40 watt presence. And don’t be tempted by the name Javier Bardem on the credits. He gets paid for playing second fiddle to Penn whilst Ray Winstone obliges trans-national demographics with his umpteenth Cockney hard-man role. 

For a man in his mid 50s Penn is impressively buffed but he needs to spend as much time developing his brain as his body if he wants to win back fans. Believe me, that will take some doing after such a comprehensive dud as this.




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