The Gunman


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Gunman
"The story lacks originality"

An assassin's life is never simple. It can be solitary; it should be professional; it will be violent. What you want is a clean kill, clarity of purpose and a smooth story line. What you don't want are emotional complications that trigger chaos at the heart of order.

The Gunman goes with "don't want". The girl, not the job, drives the plot - she and paranoia. You can't have a spy thriller, or political scandal, or Jason Bourne without asking, "Who do you trust?" Answer: "No bloody one!"

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Sean Penn will sell this film. He's been spending his leisure time in the gym, which explains the (many) half-naked scenes. He plays Jim Terrier, the small dog of the title.

It begins in Africa. He and Annie (Jasmine Trinca) are lovers. She doesn't know what he does - what he really does - in this case kill people. He works for a security firm, not the CIA for once, and his target is an influential government minister.

After completing the assignment he has to leave the country fast. He can't tell Annie. He disappears. His friend and colleague Felix (Javier Bardem) picks up the slack and marries her.

Years later, he returns and that's when the trouble starts. He's on a mission, not exactly revenge, more an investigation into the rotting corpse of the mercenary business.

The film has the look of something well made. It is too violent, but that's par for the course these days, and Terrier has an illness affecting his brain which is neither explained nor used as an effective plot device.

The story lacks originality. Its been-there-done-that element is hung out to dry, leaving the screen free for full-on action.

Penn is better than this. Idris Elba, No 2 on the credits, appears briefly at the end and Bardem is cast against type.

An assassin's life is never predictable. Until now.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2015
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An international hitman uncovers corruption amongst Western mercenaries in Africa
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Director: Pierre Morel

Writer: Pete Travis, Don MacPherson, based on the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette

Starring: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Jasmine Trinca, Melina Matthews, Blanca Star Olivera, Deborah Rosan, Daniel Westwood, Jorge Leon Martinez, Peter Franzén, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Elia Diaz, Ángela Fuente

Year: 2015

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain, UK, France


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