Sunday, March 22, 2015
Based on the novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, The Gunman is the story of a former assassin who is trying to move on from his dark past as he learns that his sins have come back to haunt him. Directed by Pierre Morel and screenplay by Don MacPherson, Pete Travis, and Sean Penn, the film is an exploration into a killer who once killed for his government and many others as he becomes the target himself when he refuses to kill. Starring Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Jasmine Trinca, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, and Idris Elba. The Gunman is an engaging though very typical film from Pierre Morel.
Eight years after an assassination in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a former assassin finds his past has come back to haunt him following an attack at the country as he goes to Europe to find out why. That is essentially the plot of the film as it plays into a man who copes with not just his own sins but also failing health and other issues as he becomes paranoid following a hit on him. While it is a story that is very simple, the script does explore the world of multi-national corporations that get involved with these things as it never really gels into the story as its protagonist Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) travels to London and Spain to find out why he is being targeted as it related to the assassination of a mining minister that he took part in eight years before.
While the script does maintain some intrigue in its storyline, it does have some major flaws as it plays into the way many of the film’s supporting characters are written. Notably as characters like Felix (Javier Bardem) aren’t fleshed out as he is a character that was a friend of Terrier but is also a suspect for the fact that he might’ve been the one to carry out the hit on Terrier. Felix’s wife Annie (Jasmine Trinca) is another character that also suffers from the script’s shortcomings as she is nothing more than an object of affection for Terrier as they had a past together. It’s among some of the things in the film that don’t work though the script does succeed in creating the moments of action as well as some dialogue as it relates to the suspense and some funny banter between Terrier and his friend Stanley (Ray Winstone).
Pierre Morel’s direction is very typical of what is expected in action films where a trained killer becomes the hunted though Morel does manage to keep things simple in the non-action scenes. Notably in the close-ups and medium shots while some of the establishing shots do get repetitive at times with its wide angles even though it is to represent a world that is coming undone by scandal. While Morel’s approach to action is quite straightforward, there are moments where he does go into fast-cutting styles to play into its intensity where it is a mixed back. The editing also suffers in a sex scene between Terrier and Annie as it is clumsily handled. Even though the film’s ending is quite conventional, its climax is still quite chilling as it relates to Terrier battling it out with the people who tried to kill him as it is set in a very public setting in Spain. Overall, Morel creates an adequate but very unoriginal film about a former assassin who is being targeted for his own sins.
Cinematographer Flavio Martinez Labiano does excellent work with the cinematography to capture the nighttime scenes set in Barcelona, London, and in Africa to play into its dark moods along with some low-key scenes set in the daytime. Editor Frederic Thoraval does some fine work with the editing in some of the film‘s non-action scenes though the sex scene between Terrier and Annie is terrible while some of the action relies on fast-cutting that doesn‘t really work at all. Production designer Andrew Laws, with set decorator Anneke Botha and supervising art director Stuart Kearns, does fantastic work with the set pieces from the look of Felix‘s country home to the quaint apartment Terrier would stay in Barcelona.
Costume designer Jill Taylor does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual for all of the characters involved in the film. Visual effects supervisor Stuart Lashley does OK work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects though they weren‘t distracting as it helps play into the film‘s gritty tone. Sound designer Paul Carter does terrific work with the sound to play into the sounds of gunfire and other key elements in the film‘s action scenes. The film’s music by Marco Beltrami is pretty good for its bombastic orchestral score with elements of guitars to play into the intensity of the action.
The casting by Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is amazing as it features some notable small roles from Ade Oyefeso as Terrier’s assistant in Africa who save him, Peter Frenzen as an assassin hired to kill Terrier, and Idris Elba in a small yet fun role as a mysterious operative who is so good but has very little screen time. Mark Rylance is terrific as an old friend of Terrier in Cox who had reinvented himself as a corporate businessman that would make Terrier uneasy. Ray Winstone is fantastic as Terrier’s friend Stanley as he is the most fun supporting character in the film that is also the one character that has any depth as he is concerned for his friend’s well-being as well as telling him to just hide.
Jasmine Trinca is alright as Annie as a doctor who didn’t know what Terrier or Felix did in the film’s first act until she copes with the truth as Trinca’s role is very underwritten as some damsel-in-distress character. Javier Bardem is good in his role as Felix though he is also underused and underdeveloped as he spends much of the film’s second act drunk and cagey while being more straight in the film’s first act. Finally, there’s Sean Penn in a superb performance as Jim Terrier as Penn brings a bit of charm to his role while having his moments as a badass though it’s not perfect due to the shortcomings of the script and Penn not being entirely convincing of playing an assassin though he does manage to bring a bit of gravitas to his role.
The Gunman is a decent but messy film from Pierre Morel. Despite its intriguing premise as well as some adequate performances from Sean Penn and Javier Bardem as well as a fun one from Ray Winstone. It’s a film that could’ve done more for the hunter being the hunted premise but ends up being very typical of these kinds of films. In the end, The Gunman is a very mediocre film from Pierre Morel.
© thevoid99 2015