The Gunman (3/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 118 minutes
Not for children.
One thing you can be
sure of when you go to see a Sean Penn (Jim Terrier) movie: more serious
overacting than is available from any actor except Al Pacino. The
essence of acting is to have the audience not realize that it is
watching someone give a performance, but to create the illusion that the
actor is not acting at all. When you see Penn, however, you cannot help
but know that you are seeing an actor reciting lines from a script and
feigning actions, reacting to a director’s direction.
What makes this film
imminently worse is that it makes virtually no sense whatsoever. All
through the film I kept asking my friend, “Do you know what’s going on?”
and “Do you know what’s going on yet?” The answer was always a shake of
the head, no.
Oh, sure, we can
understand that Felix (Javier Bardem), ostensibly Terrier’s friend,
marries Terrier’s girlfriend, Annie (Jasmine Trinca), and that Annie is
ticked off at Terrier for apparently abandoning her after Terrier
assassinates a government official in The Congo. But in the end that has
nothing to do with the story. And we know that people are trying to kill
Terrier, but why?
And even after the movie
is over the story makes no sense whatsoever. That’s not surprising
considering that Penn gets a screenwriting credit along with Don
MacPherson and Pete Travis. Sometimes actors believe their credits and
apparently come to the idea that they need to do more than just act so
they should have some input into the script.
Even director Pierre
Morell (Taken) and a terrific score by Marco Beltrami can’t help
the nonsensical story, based on a novel The Prone Gunman by
Jean-Patrick Menchette. Adding to the dilemma of understanding the film
is a performance by Ray Winstone as Terrier’s friend Stanley, who talks
in an accent so deep it needs subtitles.
Worse, Morell has so
many scenes of Penn and almost everyone else walking around with guns
looking for other people with guns, striking those hackneyed poses one
sees every day in TV cop shows, walking down blind aisles with the gun
in front of them held in two hands, swinging it back and forth quickly
like they actually knew what they were doing. Finally when these scenes
became so tiresome they lost the intended tension I pictured them
filming the scenes in my mind’s eye with the cameraman backing up as
they are walking forward, wondering if they felt foolish while filming
the same scene over and over again.
Also worth noting is
that the climax takes place in a bullfight ring even though the location
of the film is Barcelona and Barcelona does not allow bullfighting. But
that anomaly is consistent with the film and the unsatisfying ending
that seems to treat a cold-blooded murder with a wink and a nod.
This is just an ego trip
for an elderly actor, who can’t get a role in a good movie, to show he’s
still alive, to try to prove he can be an action hero at his advanced
years, and to narcissistically display a buff body.