Written by / 3/20/2015 / No comments / , , ,

SEAN PENN STARRING IN THE GUNMAN

year: 2015 rating: **
Seems odd Sean Penn would want to go high-octane mainstream on us. Or that the TAKEN director would gamble this particularly risky leading man in a weekend action thriller. But the opening credits may shed some light on the matter since Penn co-scripted (based on a novel) and produced THE GUNMAN… Could it be that Pierre Morel was Sean's personal choice to direct a familiar story about a resilient American professional, working overseas, turned straight and (most likely) hunted by the people he worked for?

To fit within Penn’s personal niche, there’s a backdrop of politics having to do with aiding an impoverished nation; idealist by day, killing machine by night. And yet Penn’s Terrier (not his dog, that’s his name) is only half into the job. One quick scene shows the titular assassin taking out a prime figurehead in the Congo, where his otherwise vicious heart genuinely bleeds for the cause and, most important, he has a beautiful local girlfriend, which makes it harder to vanish after the job's done – leading to an attempt on his life followed by several action sequences highlighting our man’s ability to get out of any painted corner: Meanwhile, Steamy bedroom sequences exploit Penn’s muscular build, contrasting to a thoroughly aged, map-lined face with enough visible mileage for the gritty occupation to seem believable, and his former cohorts... lovably tough Ray Winstone aside... are so Capitalist-crooked and predictably double-crossing, it’s no wonder he wanted out in the first place. But the big problem is: we never venture far enough into that much-discussed sordid past for the desperation of the present time to mean anything.
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