Directed by Pierre Morel who also directed Taken, The Gunman stars Sean Penn, Jasmine Trinca, Javier Bardem and some very short screen time from Idis Elba.
At age 54 Sean Penn has managed to keep himself looking very much in shape and might be following in the footsteps of Taken’s Liam Neeson as the next ‘older’ action man. Although for me he doesn’t quite have that edge that Neeson has to be able to pull it off. Penn’s character Terrier is based in the Congo when we first meet him. He is working for a mining company and in a relationship with Annie (Jasmine Trinca) an aid worker. As with all decent thrillers there is of course a hidden agenda. He along with his team which includes Bardem’s character Felix, are actually there to assassinate a politician, with Terrier the assigned trigger man.
Terrier on completion of the mission has to immediately leave the Congo and Annie behind. Fast forward eight years and we catch up with Terrier who is back in the Congo, this time not undercover. He appears as a man haunted by his past actions trying to make amends. Following an attempt on his life he flees the area and soon realises his past has come back to find him. Reconnecting with members of his old team he sets about finding out who is trying to kill him and why. I wont’ spoil the movie by saying too much on that!
The story line does keep you interested, with enough twists and turns to keep your attention for almost two hours. The action scenes are excellent and seem somewhat less far fetched than many in this genre which is quite refreshing. In terms of performances, Bardem as usual is great and really shines when he is playing a character who is edgy with a touch of crazy. Jasmine Trinca plays the love interest very well but I’d like to see a bit more grit to her character. Penn, while an accomplished actor and enjoyable in the movie, he doesn’t have enough of a hard edge to pull off the action hero role as well as I’d like. Then again any time I see him I associate him with his I Am Sam character so it might just be a personal preference.
Overall the movie runs at a steady pace and you feel it was worth the watch. I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 on the proviso there is no Gunman Part 2. Check out the trailer below.