Monday, April 06, 2015

The Gunman

So, why didn't I see this during its first week or two when I could have maybe tools people that it was pretty good? I think it was a combination of heading to Maine for one weekend, BUFF for the better part of a week, and a whole bunch of other things with limited windows. I must have counted on a decent-looking movie from the director of Taken doing well enough for a good run, but only those of us who really like action movies notice the director, hence the continued employment and/or box office of Olivier Megaton.

(Yes, I'll rip Megaton at any vaguely reasonable opportunity. The fact that he's useless as an action director is an idea that needs to circulate.)

Anyway, I wound up going to the $6.99 show Sunday morning, which for those of you who don't live in a city the size of Boston is what we call a cheap movie. 10:10am, the only show of the day at Boston Common. How much popcorn you can possibly sell with that scheduling, honestly? I don't understand how movies get booked sometimes.

The Gunman

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 5 April 2015 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, DCP)

About a year ago, when it was Kevin Costner's turn, I commented that it seemed like the agents of every actor in his fifties were going to the guys who made Taken and saying that they would like a slick action movie that played to their clients' strengths as well. The latest is Sean Penn, and it's not more than half a joke to say that since his strengths run more toward activist guilt than personal charm, The Gunman being more murky penance than rescue fantasy is little surprise. As such, it's less commercial than some of its analogs, but an efficient little thriller nonetheless.

It's not quite so efficient at the start, when a long-ish prologue introduces the audience to Jim Terrier (Penn) and Felix Marti (Javier Bardem), among several private security consultants in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, doing a bit more than looking out for the NGO-run field hospital where Jim's girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca) treats an alarming number of machete wounds. Circumstances force Jim to leave, but eight years later he has returned to dig wells, only to be hunted down for his previous sins. The trail takes him to London to call in favors from old comrades Cox (Mark Rylance) and Stanley (Ray Winstone), and then to Barcelona, where he finds Felix - and Annie.

In addition to playing the lead role, Penn is one of the screenwriters adapting Jean-Patrick Manchette's novel The Prone Gunman, and they play into his reputation a bit with that fairly detailed opening that makes sure the audience understands just what sort of corruption and chaos the developing world faces rather than just saying "black ops in places you don't want to go" like many movies of this sort do. That's cool, although for story purposes it also means that it takes a while to show that Felix is an envious bastard who will act the party in the most transparent way possible. It also starts to set up another way the film will play against action-movie type by suggesting that all those times the protagonist is hit over the head or right in the middle of explosions and gunfire have a cumulative bad effect.

Full review on EFC.

No comments: