Sunday 13 March 2016


(Pierre Morel, 2015)

So hilariously generic in its particulars that it plays almost like a parody, The Gunman is a pretty waste of an awful lot of acting talent.
Sean Penn plays the action lead here, but he is not really fully committing to a Liam Neeson career revival which this was obviously envisioned as. Instead, he co-wrote the screenplay and presumably ensured that this otherwise stock Euro-spy action thriller has some worthy stuff about mining in the Congo and multinational culpability. He's in good shape for a middle-aged man and does well with the action stuff, but director Morel seems more concerned with making everything look painterly than mounting effective action sequences.
Then there's the fact that the characters are all flat and underwritten. And no matter how charismatic Idris Elba, Javier Bardem and Ray Winstone are, they can't make puppets any more realistic. Only Mark Rylance really animates his role. The love triangle is awful - pointless and desultory.
The locations look great, Morel has a fine eye and a nose for ambience, and there are a few divertingly well-done action beats, but overall, and considering it is based on Manchette's The Prone Gunman,  this feels like a major missed opportunity.

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