The Gunman

WRITTEN BY: Don MacPherson, Pete Travis, Sean Penn 
DIRECTED BY: Pierre Morel
STARRING: Sean Penn, Jasmine Trinca, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance
RATING: 2 stars

Based on Jean-Patrick Manchette's novel, The Gunman introduces audiences to mercenary Martin Terrier (Sean Penn) who is hired to assassinate the Congo's head of mining. When the job is done, Terrier must flee immediately, leaving his oblivious aid worker girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca) behind with their friend Felix (Javier Bardem). Years later, Terrier is trying to make up for his past when he becomes a target for assassination, thrusting him back into his old life.

Director Pierre Morel gave the world Taken, so action is definitely his forte. Unfortunately, that is all we really get from The Gunman because the plot is far too thin to make much sense at all. Perhaps it is because Penn – famed for his serious and thought-provoking roles – is the lead in this film that I automatically expected more depth and was therefore even more disappointed when there was none to be found. Penn certainly looks better than he ever has, with his slim frame bulging with muscles. Every opportunity is taken to show off his ripped body too, apparently to distract the audience from realising there is nothing else worth paying attention to in this drawn-out film. Idris Elba has such a minor and uninteresting role, it is a wonder what even attracted him to the part. A chance to work with Penn perhaps? Ray Winstone is his typical smart, tough guy self and is perhaps the most sympathetic character in the entire cast, playing Terrier's trusted friend. Mark Rylance is two-dimensional as Terrier's co-assassin and Bardem is so over-the-top it is embarrassing to watch. Trinca is alluring and has good chemistry with Penn, but her character is inconsistent. Ultimately, The Gunman is too long, nonsensical and its action sequences are unoriginal.