Seriously, Sean Penn takes his shirt off so much in this movie it makes you wonder if it was originally written for Matthew McConaughey.
“The Gunman” stars Sean Penn as a member of a paramilitary organization who finds himself in a life and death chase as he attempts to escape his past and reunite with the woman he loves. It’s a pretty straight forward story of regret and escape, with a touch of damsel in distress thrown in for good measure. All of which together, makes it a pretty non eventful 2 hours of just watching people shoot at each other and occasionally swing at other with sharp objects. Yeah, this is a pretty dull watch.
Not that there aren’t a few pieces that work. For one, the acting isn’t bad, I mean it’s strange to see Penn in the action star role, but he gets by, and Idris Elba and Javier Bardem put in good work on the periphery, even if their characters are woefully underused. Even newcomer Jasmine Trinca does decent stuff here, when she’s actually given a chance to be more than just arm candy to the hero, who literally spends the movie alternating between dodging bullets and showing off his muscles. We get it Sean, you’re ripped for a 55 year old, nicely done. Also, I have to admit a couple of the action set pieces were at least inventive enough to capture my attention briefly with some decently shot and choreographed movement. Of course none of that means much of anything when you have a story this bland and characters this uninteresting trying to keep us engaged.
It’s just boring. For a movie to maintain interest something has to keep our attention or activate us to root for someone or something to happen. But here there isn’t a single plot point, character or relationship that holds any interest. The plot is completely obvious, the characters are all bland and mostly unlikable, and the central love relationship feels like an awkward arranged marriage of convenience. Look if I get an hour into your movie and I don’t care about anything or anyone enough to identify how I would even want it to resolve, you may just have a problem. Plus, the movie seems to want to be an action movie, a love story, and a message movie about war and mineral resources in the Congo, yet fails to check any of those boxes completely. Not to mention it has a completely ridiculous ending, although there’s not really any reason to care by that point anyway, but I figured I’d at least mention it..
Overall, “The Gunman” wastes some great actors and some ok performances by forgetting that at some point you have to tell an interesting story. With no real plot, or character, or relationship to root for or invest in, the end result is too boring to shoot it’s way out of anything more than a C-.