Sean Penn is a gunman. He shoots someone. Because of this shooting he has to flee the country he is in for 8 years. He comes back after those years and people are still angry at him for shooting this bloke, so he hunts down his old friends to find out which one told the people that he shot the bloke.
Apparently Sean Penn looked at Taken and thought “you know what that looks fantastic I want some of that, only with more of a white saviour theme, and with less action and more exposition”, well if that’s what he asked for then he should be pretty damn pleased because this is just Taken only boring and with more questionable politics. Although it is worth pointing out Sean Penn is no Liam Neeson, after watching what felt like three weeks of the Gunman I can honestly say I now think Taken is pretty much Citizen Kane.
It’s dreadful. It’s dull, it’s slow and it lacks any energy. Sean Penn sort of wanders around the various locations talking to one member of a stellar cast (on paper) at a time. Only when I say talking I just kind of mean groaning. It’s like Penn accidentally misplaced his life force before they started shooting. In every scene he looks one breath away from taking on the void like existence of Adam Sandler. But the thing is Sean Penn’s corpse spends it’s time talking to really talented actors who are actually giving it some. Javier Bardem is completely loopy and seems like he is completely unhinged at all times, Mark Rylance who incidentally has a pretty bad time script-wise really gives it his all even donning this strange grumbly voice with a non-specific accent that appears to be murdering his throat (so much so that he sort of stops doing it towards the very end). But the problem is everyone looks like they are overacting compared to Sean Penn’s charisma less turn. Elsewhere Ray Winstone plays Ray Winstone very well and Idris Elba manages to breathe some life into the film after it’d been dead for about an hour, of course after he leaves it promptly dies again but he tried.
However, I think The Gunman’s single biggest flaw is its complete lack in fun. Taken stands up because it’s fun to watch, it’s a silly film that knows it’s silly. The Gunman is a silly film that thinks it’s a masterpiece. And the whole film is played completely straight with no intentional laughs at all – on occasion the dialogue does prompt a few unintended sniggers – and to be honest it’s really draining. Sure on a technical level it’s a film. It has lighting and is shot. The explosions look like real explosions and the guns look like real guns. Unfortunately that stuff counts for pretty much nothing, because not a single human being in this film vaguely resembles a real one. No-one in the Gunman talks like real humans do, no one acts like real humans do. And to be honest they don’t even look like them, Sean Penn most certainly doesn’t.
Overall, don’t let the names on the imdb page fool you. This is the most crushing dull Trainwreck of a movie I have seen in quite some time. The overall effect of which felt much like being aggressively put to sleep. Don’t watch it.