The Gunman (2015)

The Gunman (2015)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Pierre Morel
  • Cast: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Jasmine Trinca


A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.


  • Quickie Review:

    Terrier (Sean Penn) is an ex-mercenary hired to kill high-value targets. Several years after retirement, Terrier ends up becoming a target himself. He must revisit old friends and jobs to uncover the people responsible. There are moments in The Gunman where it can be quite fun. The actions scenes that are there are for the most part well shot and intense. However, all too often it is followed by lengthy segments that are overly dramatic or just plain uninteresting. So if you are expecting some non-stop action, you will be very disappointed. The Gunman is a movie that can easily be skipped.

    Full Review:

    The Gunman, from the director of the first Taken starring Sean Penn and Javier Bardem. I was sold! Yes the recent Taken movies were not great but this is from the guy who made the first one which was awesome. So The Gunman should also be good right? Oh man, the answer to that is without a doubt, no.

    Before I say why this is a poor movie, let me be fair and tell you what the movie does right. Sean Penn is actually a pretty good action hero. He’s can be quite resourceful and packs a lot of brute strength. I don’t know what pills he’s been taking but Penn has really bulked up for this role. The hand to hand combat was decent and the gunfights were even better. There is one shoot out in a Spanish villa in particular that was intense because that’s where we got to see Penn’s full set of combat skills. However, these positives are just too few and far between that as a whole it doesn’t help the movie.

    The main issue here is that the movie has been marketed as an action flick. So that’s what the audience is expecting, but there is a surprising amount of drama. To be frank, the drama isn’t even all that good because the supporting cast isn’t interesting. Javier Bardem was a wasted talent. From the trailers it seemed liked Bardem was the villain going head to head with Penn, but he is just some jealous jerk who can’t hold his liquor. You have the guy who took down MI6 in James Bond Skyfall, and you don’t use him as a villain? Very very bad call. By the way did you know Idris Elba was in this movie? I didn’t, because he had no purpose being in this movie. Another wasted potential. Then to add some weakness to Penn’s character, early in the movie we are told his health is in critical condition and he should avoid stress. Then he goes into some of the most stressful situations possible and is completely unaffected until the climax when conveniently the symptoms show up. The forced character weakness on top of a clichéd love triangle makes The Gunman fade into the noise of mediocre movies trying to be more than what they are.

    There is a good movie aching to reveal itself in The Gunman but it is weighed down by a pile of mediocre to below average drama. When the action hits, it hit hard but everything in between feels so tedious and dull that you are forced to check your watch multiple times. You are not missing out if you skip this film.

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  • Pierre Morel is the man the brought Taken to the world, so I already knew what to expect when I walked into his latest feature The Gunman. With Sean Penn, Javier Bardem and Idris Elba headlining the film, it can’t be that bad right?…..right?

    Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is an ex-soldier working under contract in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His girlfriend, Annie (Jasmine Trinca) works for the same NGO as he does, in a medical position. Felix (Javier Bardem) works as a contact for Jim and is interested in Annie. As part of his contract, Jim assassinates the mining minister and has to flee the continent. When he returns eight years later, digging wells, he uses some bad-ass moves to foil an attempted assassination on himself and when he begins to investigate, finds his past catching up with him.

    The Gunman’s plot is in a league of it’s own, somehow managing to be endlessly clichéd and at the same time, frustratingly convoluted. It often feels like they’re specifically adding unnecessary detail and opening up new story arcs to mask the plot holes.

    Read the full review at

  • The Gunman begins in 2006 in the stylishly sun-baked Democratic Republic of Congo. News reports inform us that this is the scene of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. This is a country rife with poverty, violence, and political corruption. A civil war has broken out due to the assassination of the country’s minister of mining, who had recently announced the cancellation and renegotiation of mining contracts with foreign companies.

    The triggerman is Jim Terrier (Sean Penn), a former Special Forces soldier turned gun-for-hire who wants out of the game. Mission accomplished, he is forced to flee the embattled country but not before tasking colleague Felix (Javier Bardem) to look after his girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca). Terrier would seem a good fit for Penn, whose résumé is littered with morally compromised and damaged men. When we next see Terrier, it is eight years hence, and he is back in the Congo, doing penance for past sins as an aid worker trying to bring clean drinking water to the area. There’s still a touch of the rebellious in Terrier – he consistently breaks staff security protocol by surfing at the break of every dawn.

    Terrier’s past catches up with him when he’s attacked by random gunmen shouting, “Where’s the white man?” Shovels and machetes are wielded. Terrier naturally does away with the baddies, and soon he is tracking down his former cohorts to warn them that they may be in danger and also to try and find out who wants him dead and why. Terrier also discovers that Felix has more than fulfilled his promise to protect Annie. The two are now married and about to finalise the adoption of their first child.

    The Gunman is based on a 1981 pulp novel by Frenchman Jean-Patrick Manchette, which Penn co-adapted with Don MacPherson and Pete Travis. With Pierre Morel aboard as director, all signs point to The Gunman being Penn’s Taken. The 54-year-old is undoubtedly fit, putting his bulging biceps and rock hard abs on constant display and in constant danger of being knifed, pierced by bullets and, yes, even being gored by a bull. The double Oscar winner supplies his trademark intensity and soulfulness. Penn has too strong a presence not to be watchable, and yet this is a role that feels ill-suited even when he’s hitting all the right notes.

    Part of what made Taken such an effective film is that Morel and screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen stripped the story to its essentials. Daughter is kidnapped, father hunts down the bad guys. At no point did the filmmakers lose sight of their main goal: watching Neeson execute his special set of skills. The Gunman doesn’t quite know its objective. Is it an international political thriller? A love triangle with shades of Casablanca? Does Terrier want to save himself, his mates, the girl, the world, all of the above?

    Morel, as per usual, does well with the chases, shootouts, and the final showdown. The film, however, takes far too long to get where it needs to go – the disinterest already calcifies by the time Terrier lands in London and we still have Barcelona and Gibraltar to go. Worst of all, The Gunman takes itself far too seriously which is precisely why Bardem’s hilariously overripe performance should be well applauded. Ray Winstone and Idris Elba pop in to provide additional swagger and, in Elba’s case, a thoroughly nonsensical monologue about treehouses.

    Penn. Bardem. Elba. Winstone. All sexy beasts trapped in a fitfully effective actioner.

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  • Wow, this movie was unexpectedly dull! With director Pierre Morel and actors Sean Penn, Javier Bardem and Ray Winstone on board, I expected a slam-dunk action/thriller. Morel’s films to date — “District B13,” the first “Taken” and “From Paris with Love” have been have been fairly mindless yet fast-paced, entertaining popcorn flicks. This one just lumbers along like a poor man’s “Bourne Identity” that never manages to get off the ground.

    There are two big differences between this film and Morel’s earlier efforts: Those films were written or co-written by Luc Besson, whose scripts are often borderline ridiculous (e.g. “Lucy”) but almost always entertaining and full of snappy dialogue. Perhaps more importantly, the other films each clock in around 90 minutes, but this one plods on for nearly two hours! Even with the cliché-ridden script and phoned-in performances, a tighter edit might have provided some sense of momentum.

    I’m not super-picky when it comes to action movies, but in this rare instance I actually lost all interest long before the final credits rolled. View at your own risk.

  • Sean Penn is a real badass in 2015’s The Gunman. Heck, if Liam Neeson can pulverise any paperweight villain into submission at the age of 63, why can’t Jeff Spicoli do the same at 55. He gives the usual raw performance and his character is a humbled, ripped hitman that is made to be thoroughly likable.

    Now “Gunman” with its cheesy dialogue and quick-minded plot workings, has a look that is sun-drenched and bright. It’s crime drama playbook stuff. And in a mild relief, it’s Taken with more of a story. However, the proceedings feel like a parable that’s been told in revenge thrillers threefold. Director Pierre Morel revels in fast cutting. He wants to move things along faster than they needn’t be. After a strong opening, everything becomes rote. We’ve seen this all before. Guy assassinates the wrong leader, guy gets framed, everyone is out to kill said guy, guy has a love interest he protects, guy takes on tons of baddies and finds various ways to avoid death. Oh and guy leads an alternate life that only few people know about. Sound familiar?

    Using locales like Spain, Wimbledon, London, and South Africa, The Gunman chronicles one Jim Terrier (Sean “I got that weathered look” Penn). He kills people for a living, gets headaches from time to time that are life threatening, and I guess, digs wells for poor denizens on the side. When he assassinates the minister of the mines of Congo, he goes incognito and later finds himself the target of his own profession (a hit squad wants him dead some years later). He then tries to get information on his death warrant by way of a sniveling uber pal in Felix (played by Javier Bardem who does some severe overacting here). From then on, chaos ensues with Sean kicking ass and taking names. You can feel a lot of bones crack, a lot of bodies piling up, and plenty of silencers (a given inclusion in any contract dispatch).

    For show, various actors fade in and out while giving us cliched turns (Idris Elba as an operative and Ray Winstone as a fellow killjoy). Plus, most of the cast members are made to look older (the flick pole votes eight years later) by way of just shaving their facial hair. I guess makeup artists need not apply.

    The whole film ends in a vicious shootout a la a crowded bullfight. The blood flows like red wine and the fight scenes look like UFC contests that no human being could ever survive. The filmmakers seemed bent on upping the violent content to levels deemed unrealistic. I didn’t pump my fist in excitement. I just felt queasy and bored.

    In the end, The Gunman isn’t necessarily a vanity project for Sean Penn (like some critics have noted). It does however, calculate itself as his cash grab or his cashing in on the likes of what Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, and even Kevin Costner did 5 years ago. Basically, if you’ve seen The November Man (which is far superior) then you’ve seen this globetrotting mess of rushed ambivalence. Penn is formidable in the action scenes, creates admirably, a chain smoker with veritable head trauma, but his movement with the desolation of the diegesis, doesn’t celebrate him like say, Denzel Washington (I forgot to mention The Equalizer). He kills people in the most savage way and while it’s suppose to move you, it just equals an audience turnoff. Metaphorically speaking, there’s no target to hit here and the ammo is at times, blanks. My rating: 2 stars.

    Of note: There were so many times when I thought Penn’s medical condition would leave him to be executed or just leave him for dead. But heck, he just kept waking up. Yeah, we all know the so-called hero will never die, right? It’s just baseline at this point. Honestly, Penn’s Terrier came off as unhuman via a horror film starring Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. The fact that he recovers from the beatings he takes is flat out ludicrous.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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