Overall Grade: (D+)
With the cast and the premise you would think this was going to be a compelling action-thriller, unfortunately it was not.
A sniper on an assassination team is given a target to eliminate and after he is required to go into hiding leaving the country. When he returns years later he finds himself being hunted by a hit-squad, and that the details of the assignment years prior were not all accurate with the possibly he was set-up.
I had such high expectations for this film and after it was over I was as perplexed as I have been in some time after finishing a movie. “The Gunman” had everything you needed for a tense action-thriller – a solid premise (plot), Sean Penn in the lead who in my mind is one of the best in Hollywood at selecting roles, and not to be forgotten a strong supporting casting consisting of Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and Ray Winstone. Yet despite these strong aspects the result was still a rather common film for the genre, awkward characters for their casting choices, and overall a rather boring film with a great deal of predictability.
It was not more than fifteen-minutes into this one where you could see the plot twist, and what characters were going to be involved in what. Penn delivered a capable performance but there was no chemistry between him and the female lead. Bardem was good in his performance, his character was not very likable however and not in a good antagonist way but in a dumb way that seemed to use his actions to manipulate the script in the directions they wanted it to go. Idris Elba and Ray Winstone were both nice characters, if you can call Elba’s appearance anything more than a cameo.
As a whole this was a moderately enjoyable action-thriller, that was just above average. There were some nice tense moments during some of the gun-play and some nice sequences that elevated the intrigue and suspense, but they were crowded with too many other slow scenes, weak dialogue and slow pacing to bring the enjoyment level up. The love dynamic in this film seemed very cliche and drew no real connection, and unfortunately it took up a bulk of the back end of the film.
Penn was very good as a action lead and it is unfortunate he didn’t have a better script to work with. If his performance was in a story-line that roused even a decent amount of interest and a hint of unpredictability this would have been a very good film. Unfortunately it was just a movie that told a very elementary level story and could have been so much more. If you are expecting something along the lines of Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Blood Diamond” then this film is not the one. If you are a huge fan of Penn then you may give this one a shot to enjoy his performance at least.