Sean Penn has been known to perform extremely well in many dramatic roles he’s had over the years. But little is said of the action films he’s made which is odd since his first notable roles was in BAD BOYS where he played a young troublemaker trying to stay alive in juvenile hall. That all could change with his latest film THE GUNMAN.
Penn plays Terrier, a hired mercenary for a global company with interests in the Congo. Part of a team, their latest target involves a man the company has paid influence money to. Rather than trust him they decide to take him out and Penn is the man assigned. This means that not only will he be required to kill this man he will also have to leave behind the love of his life, Annie (Jasmine Trinker), since a killer never stays once the hit is carried out.
Years go by and Terrier has returned to Africa, this time to actually do what his cover claimed years prior. Helping smaller towns to dig wells and solve their water problems during one drilling expedition a group of soldiers show not randomly but specifically seeking Terrier. In the course of events he defends himself stunning the locals he’s been helping by taking out the group of soldiers and his cover is blown. The question is why were they there searching specifically for him?
Terrier leaves the country and seeks out and old ally, Cox (Mark Rylance), who sets him on a path to connect with Felix (Javier Bardem), one of the men from his group. Felix is now married to Annie having been in love with her prior to ‘s leaving years ago. The pair do not have the happy life that he had wished for and with Penn back in the picture things get even rockier. Invited to their villa in the country a drunk Felix argues back and forth with Penn eventually revealing, as Penn has already guessed, that he’s called in troops to take him out. What he doesn’t realize is that this is a total cleansing and everyone from the old team is being taken out one at a time.
Barely escaping, Annie in tow, Terrier heads for help. But who can he now trust? Who is behind all of these murders? And can he stop them from killing both him and before it all ends?
This is a nice thriller that holds your interest from one minute to the next. Penn does a fantastic job of playing the ill-fated assassin who has tried to make up for his past mistakes only to have them follow him to the present. Sadly Bardem is wasted here playing the love smitten puppy who thinks he can win the woman simply by eliminating his rival. His was the order that sent Penn out to kill all those years ago. But his character here is limited too little more than looking jealous and getting drunk.
The movie is well made, the cinematography stunning to watch be it the streets of London or in the wilds of the Congo. Even the night scenes, some of the most difficult to film for some, come out easy to see and not get lost in the shadows. Director Pierre Morel adds another top notch action movie to his list of accomplishments which include the first TAKEN, DISTRICT B13 and FROM PARIS WITH LOVE. With the way his movies have turned out so far he’s a name I know I’ll be looking for in the future, expecting some great action films under his name.
Perhaps the only odd thing about this movie is the juxtaposition between the actions of the lead character and his crew and the real life opinions of Penn. A staunch anti-gun advocate he joins the already long list of actors who portray gun toting men of action in their films while demanding gun ownership be restricted or banned altogether. But then again this is Hollywood, the land that calls for clean air action while creating more explosions than most other businesses in the world.
Truth be told it doesn’t matter. As a movie goers I’ll continue to watch the movies that these folks make and enjoy each and every one of them. The end product here is a watchable movie that entertains and thrills from start to finish. Penn does a good job and I look forward to seeing him in more roles like this. Add this movie to your list of those worth renting and watching.
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