Drafted as a thriller with a love triangle thrown in, "The Gunman" is the tale of an ex-assassin in hiding, who is now being hunted.
In a brief prologue dated 2006, the film opens in Kinshasa in
the Congo. A news bulletin reveals how large corporations were
seeking control of the natural resources in poor and impoverished
During that phase, in what was referred to as Project Calgary,
Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) working for the corporate,
assassinates the mining minister of Congo. Then, on the advice of
his best friend and partner in crime Felix (Javier
Bardem), he leaves behind his girl-friend Annie (Jasmine
Trinca) and flees the country.
Eight years later, Jim works for an NGO in a coastal area amidst
tight security, when all of a sudden men with arms land up where he
works. On realising that they were specifically looking for him, he
sets out on a mission to find out who is hunting him.
He travels from Africa to London to Barcelona catching up with
old friends, trying to solve this mystery as to who wants him
killed. And during the course of the narration it is revealed that
Terrier suffers from memory loss, depression and head
Packed with cliches picked up from "Memento", "Enemy of the
State", "The Counselor" and "The Expendables" along with impulsive
digressions, dubious characters and gaping plot-holes, the script
lacks the bite of a wholesome fresh thriller.
Directed by Pierre Morel who had earlier delivered "District
13", "Taken" and "From Paris With Love", this film is based on the
novel "The Prone Gunman", by French writer Jean-Patrick
Even though the film has an impressive cast line-up offering a
great mix of acting styles and accents, wonderful locations with
some arresting moments and some highly stylised action sequences,
the film fails to impress.
The entire setup seems contrived and a re-launchpad for the
ageing Sean Penn.
With a well-chiselled physique, Penn's Terrier flings his shirt
at the drop of a hat, smokes like a chimney and kills in
retaliation. He traverses a morally complicated past like a zombie
and the script fails to explain how he got into the mess in the
very first time or the motive of eliminating him after a lapse of
so many years.
As for his performance, Penn, with his attitude on his sleeve,
sleepwalks through his character, making it difficult to relate to
The screen comes alive with the quirky histrionics of Javier
Bardem, Jasmine Trinca and Ray Winstone, who plays Terrier's friend
the helpful friend Stanley.
Mark Rylance as Terrier's other estranged colleague Cox is
functional as the other bad guy. And, Idris Elba as the Interpol Agent is
Overall, "The Gunman" shoots off-target!