Small Screen, High Ideals: A Review of ‘The Gunman’ on BD

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - July 23, 2015
Small Screen, High Ideals: A Review of ‘The Gunman’ on BD

It’s a saying that holds true in a wide variety of walks of life, that lightening almost never strikes twice.  The Gunman holds that saying true as we see an aging acting icon attempt to breathe some new life into his personal brand by going to action route yet ultimately falling a little too flat as the material just takes itself far too seriously to be believed.

The Gunman features Sean Penn as a former Special Forces officer and Military contractor who is forced to go on the run after a questionable job that he participated in years ago comes back to haunt him while he suffering the effects of a lifetime at war via conditions like PTSD and severe concussion problems.

While not without some fun moments, the surprisingly high pedigree of this ensemble doesn’t quite live up to the material which is just a little lackluster and pretty flat as it tries to be an violent action film with a conscience.

From a lot of the same people behind movies like The Transporter & Taken, the action is handled with a quality touch and director Pierre Morel can handle and action sequence and jet set to multiple locations along with the best of them.    Based on the novel by Jean Patrick Manchette, the script by Pete Travis hits all the right storytelling beats and gives us a reason to get into the characters and the plight that is presented in front of them, but in the second and third acts it spins into this convoluted political story that felt like Sean Penn wrote it all himself.  The action while solid all felt like it was servicing the political statement that was trying to be made and it caused it all to feel muted and ineffective, not allowing us to get invested in the chase of it all.  Where as we could get behind a Liam Neeson doing all of these horrible things we never feel like the action in this movie ever has an emotional purpose and is more just a function of the story, despite being technically proficient.  It can never be action for the sake of action and even if it is for the flimsiest of reasons, we have to be invested in it.

Sean Penn actually manages to look the part here as Jim Terrier, the mercenary with a conscience who is on the run for his life after a botched assassination attempt.  He got in shape and is semi believable trying to hunt those who are after him, but then there are other elements like a flimsy love triangle and some gaping logic holes as he doesn’t fit the mold of a guy fighting for his life, instead it feels like he’s fighting for a cause and if he survives…well that would be just super, but never actually gives a damn.  We never get a clear cut villain, it is always just blind greed, Javier Bardem is wasted as a former friend, while the great Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are simply there to look cool.

TheGunManIt’s got the shimmer and shine of a mid-level budgeted action movie, however The Gunman ends up feeling like a bit of a wet noodle even though it plays better on the small screen.  It did what it was supposed to do and fill up our cinematic bellies, but an hour after watching this, my eyes were hungry for something else and I barely remembered that this existed as it needs to be trimmed into something leaner and unquestionably meaner to register on the palate of the movie going public.

Picture and sound quality on the BD are fine but there are no special features.

The Gunman [Blu-ray]

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.