Janet W., Here…
Spicoli, is that you? My what a long way Sean Penn has come. Well-known for his comedic stony surfer dude role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Penn has also become quite the dramatic actor. As Harvey Milk in Milk and Brad Whitewood Jr. in At Close Range Penn displayed his acting brilliance. Is there a type of role this man cannot do? Well, now I can say I love him as an action star. In The Gunman, Penn (Jim Terrier) roars deadly prowess from his buffed up physique. I was amazed at how hot he looked. I’ve admired his performances before, but Penn shows me a different side in more ways than one.
The Gunman opens with a black screen covered with a tumult of rapid gunfire. Suddenly, a broadcast news report of danger in the Congo begins. The film transitions to Terrier walking into a noisy bar in the Congo. The transition from the video to film makes the dangerous world of the Congo palpable, an effective tactic toward realism. Yet, we see Terrier joining a friendly drinking party, aid workers letting off a little steam. Terrier joins his ladylove, Jasmine Trinca (Annie), and her obviously lovelorn co-worker Javier Bardem (Felix). Felix cannot take his eyes off Annie and his disdain for Terrier is apparent as well. Felix knows Terrier’s secret that Annie doesn’t know. Terrier is a mercenary and Felix is in command of his current mission. Gee, do you think Felix will come between Annie and Terrier?
I had not seen Trinca perform before, not bad. Bardem on the other has been a delightfully wicked villain to watch. My first encounter with Bardem was his seductive role as Juan Antonio in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Menacing as Silva in Skyfall, his blonde look freaked me out and his devilish intentions had me looking over my shoulder for sure. I look forward his future works, quite an intriguing presence.
Overall, I enjoyed The Gunman. It gave me my action, kick major butt fix. However, there were some dragging and over focused moments. I mean, it’s a cool snipe rifle that Terrier uses, but it didn’t deserve its long take of the gun in the shady hotel room. Also, Terrier discovers that he has a serious malady, but he is able to evade his would be assassins numerous times with relative ease. Even when he passes out complete, trained mercs cannot catch him? Come on. It’s called Suspension of Disbelief, not Make the Impossible Possible. In addition, there are some rambling dialogue moments like when Mark Rylance (Terry Cox) is gloating over Terrier going on and on with his attempt of justifying his ruthless deeds. I appreciated the cleverness of the Terrier character. A few tricks were used that I don’t recall being used before in a spy or war film.
The formidable Idris Elba (DuPont) has a very small role in The Gunman. I felt his part should have been more substantial. We know from examples such as The Gospel, Daddy’s Little Girls, Obsessed, Thor films, Prometheus, and Pacific Rim (my favorite thus far) that Elba is a superb actor. I’ll continue to watch his performances for years to come. One thing though, can we get someone to help with his razor burn. Those bumps shouldn’t mar such a handsome face. The Gunman was very predictable, but still entertaining. Go see this exciting side of Sean Penn, the action star, you won’t regret it. As Oliver Twist said, “Please Sir, I want some more?”
3 out of 5 Stars
– Janet L. White