BY Molly Congdon
“The Gunman” begins back in the Congo in the year 2006, an unstable time full of fear and death.
Jim Terrier (Sean Penn), a sniper for a mercenary assassin team, working for a nameless client, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. After taking that successful shot, he is forced into hiding.
From first glance, it is obvious that one of his teammates, Felix (Javier Bardem) longs for Terrier’s girl, Annie (Jasmine Trinca), and will do what it takes to win her heart, no matter what. He is quite pleased when Jim has to leave the continent and he is able to step in as the main man in her life.
Eight years later, Jim is back in the Congo, but instead of coming to do some more killing, he is there working with an NGO to help the people improve their water system. Taking a page out of Annie’s book, essentially. While he’s doing some work in a village, a couple of men come looking for “the white man.” News of his previous project in the Congo has been leaked and he is no longer safe, almost anywhere in the world.
The former soldier, plagued with brain damage from his previous endeavors, must attempt to clear his name, save himself from the organization that once employed his services and reconnect with the love of his life. It’s quite a to-do list.
Overall, “The Gunman” is a decent movie. Not mediocre and nothing exceptional by any means, it is interesting enough to keep your interest. The ending wasn’t too predictable, which is a nice change of pace for an action thriller.
Penn is essentially a one-man show, not quite as much as Tom Hanks in “Castaway,” but still it’s mostly all him. If you don’t like Penn, you will most likely not care for this movie since he is in every scene. His acting is convincing mostly because he plays that silent, tough guy routine well. Much like Liam Neeson’s “Taken” character, Bryan Mills, he is strong, skilled and direct in his actions, which makes sense since “Gunman” director Pierre Morel also directed the first film in the “Taken” franchise.
Also, at age 54, Penn is still in really good shape; the fight scenes didn’t appear to be too laborious for him.
Bardem is successful at making the audience despise his cowardly manipulations. Trinca is fine, but she is simply the lover who is along for the ride. Like most women in those sorts of roles, she is essentially helpless. Not exactly an ideal female role model by any means. Come on, at least have her do something worth remembering!
Will Jim outrun his past? Will he and Annie survive and live happily ever after? Will the once friend turned villain get his just desserts?
You’ll just have to watch it to find out; I won’t spoil the ending.
I will end any speculation about the violence: There’s a great deal. But these days when you’re viewing a R-rated movie, you should already know what you’re getting yourself into. There’s going to be blood, sexual content, brutal fight scenes and horrific murders. If this is not your thing, don’t attend these types of films.