Review by Edgar Torres
Truth be told this week’s review was a no brainer The Gunman because I have an inexplicable disdain for the Divergent series and this was the only other movie released in theaters this week. The main reason why I was so pessimistic about this movie was that in watching the trailer it seemed to be just another Taken, only tweaked and repackaged to make the studio millions of dollars more. However, as I was sitting in the theater, I was waiting for the moment of the protagonist’s beloved to get taken but it didn’t happen until two thirds of the way into the film! In doing so, they allowed me to be pleasantly surprised at the overall story of the movie but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The film is about a skilled sniper, Terrier (Sean Penn) who is part of a mercenary assassination team tasked with killing the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier is tasked with being the man who pulls the trigger which forces him to flee the continent as dictated in the mercenaries’ contract. Eight years later, Terrier who was overcome with guilt has given up his mercenary life and returns to the Congo to help humanitarian efforts and hopefully reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, Annie (Jasmine Trinca) who he had left behind when he fled the continent. Once in the Congo, he discovers that he is now the target of a mercenary squad.
As I stated above, the story in this film was pleasantly surprising. Having escaped the pre-packed Taken story was already a win in my book. The first part of the film sets up why this whole movie is happening in the first place; Terrier must flee because he just killed a very important man and has to lay low for a while. The second part throws him back into the thick of it where he must find a way to locate the organization that wants him killed. The final part, as any action movie requires, is the big shootout scene. The movie followed the formula for the makings of a good action flick. That being said the pacing left a bit to be desired but I will cover that in a bit. The locations in this movie were great as well, of course shooting in the Congo is going to produce beautiful shots but they did portray the level of underdevelopment that plagues the Congo. The also go to the UK and Spain and produce some really great shots. Lastly, the acting in this was stupendous. Sean Penn of course portraying Terrier looks ripped and can really convince you that he was a sniper of a mercenary team and when he has to show weakness in character, he does it convincingly well. Jaavier Bardem also does a superb job as Felix, a co-worker of sorts to Terrier who is also in love with Annie (see where this is going); by the time Felix exits stage right you both hate him and feel sorry for him.
The Gunman, I feel, has fallen to the victim of a book being turned into a movie. There are times in the movie where the pacing feels off. You begin to think to yourself “Okay we should probably know who is after him now”. That coupled with the fact that the trailers showed the love interest being taken so now you want her to be taken within the hour at most, leaves you with a sense that the movie will go on forever. Another sign that this movie was adapted from a book is that there are characters who are developed and others who fall by the wayside and seem to be forgotten, case in point Annie. Annie, who got a big part in the trailer, is portrayed as just the girlfriend or just the wife but never given any time to really be fleshed out as a character. She never has any dialogue with other characters except Terrier and Felix. Not even when there is a quiet scene with Terrier’s safe house guy Stanley do we get any development out of Annie, she’s just excused from the table and softly cries herself to sleep. There are even characters who are eluded to throughout the film and only vaguely introduced then used a main plot driver (*cough* *cough* DuPont).
All in all the movie, when entertaining, was pretty entertaining. We got some really cool moments where Terrier whips out his mercenary knowledge and shows us how outsmarting the opposition is done. However, it seemed like it was trying too hard to be an action flick that was also a thriller but the thriller portion left us wanting more. Key characters were never developed which made their choices and their fates less rewarding to viewers. If you are reading this to see if it’s worth checking out this weekend in theaters I would say pass and just go check out The Kingsman if you haven’t done so already. I would save this movie to check out on your Netflix queue or when it pops up on your HBO GO.
FINAL RATING: 2 OUT OF 5 PEWS