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The Gunman


The Gunman (2015)

A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier's successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.

Director: Pierre Morel

Writers: Jean-Patrick Manchette (novel), Don MacPherson (screenplay), 2 more credits »

Stars: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Jasmine Trinca | See full cast and crew »


A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, working for an unknown client, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier's (Sean Penn's) successful kill shot forces him to go into hiding to protect himself and the members of the team from retribution. This includes abruptly abandoning his girlfriend who has no idea what is going on. The assassination, paid for by a foreign mining company, triggers wide spread chaos and death in an already inflamed Congo. Terrier returns to the Congo years later working for an NGO, but eventually finds himself to be the target of a paid hit squad somehow connected to the ministers assassination. This leads to immediate deaths and the endangerment of the people working around him, and forces him back into hiding. In trying to discover who has put a price on his head, he begins to reconnect to the members of his old assassination team, including his old girlfriend. Always aware there is no path to redemption for his crimes, he is also periodically ... Written by RSailor

Movie Reviews

For "The Gunman" (2015) Sean Penn bulked up and he looks the part. He's a solidly convincing actor whose work I always enjoy. He's good in this action role, looking weathered, tough and professional. The story is reasonably novel, and the movie comes off quite well with some good action sequences. I particularly liked the staging of an attempt to kill Penn and his pretty amour Jasmine Trinca while they were inside a fancy isolated mansion-villa in Spain, and also the sequence at a bullfight where again he is chased. Local color adds to the entertainment; Cape Town and South Africa served as stand-ins for Congo.

Penn is suddenly being hunted by the people unknown to him who were once his distant shadowy employers when he did "bad things" such as assassinating the Congo's Minister of Mines 6 or 8 years back. He has to discover who they are and hunt them while they are hunting him. He's on the run but also investigating. He relies on Ray Winstone for help, a pleasure always to see his acting. He goes to Barcelona looking for leads to contact the man who led the assassination operation, Javier Bardem, who married Penn's girl friend when Penn had to abruptly flee the Congo after the assassination.

I'm afraid that the rest of the cast did not project as well on the screen as Penn and Winstone, and this prevented the movie from rising to the heights. Penn and Winstone are right into their parts. Javier Bardem sounds like Raul Julia but has substantial trouble being convincing. He's not convincing as a man who could induce Trinca to marry him, for example. He's not convincing in a sequence in which he is drunk. Raul Julia, were he alive and the right age, or Benicio del Toro would have been much better. The chief villain is Mark Rylance. He's adequate in the role but no more. Failings of the script perhaps contributed to that somewhat, but his emotional level wasn't conveyed well enough to make a mark and raise this picture above others in its class. One thinks of some of the truly effective and non-grotesque opponents to James Bond like Gert Frobe, Joseph Wiseman, Donald Pleasance, Adolpho Celi and Charles Gray. The story is weak regarding the character played by Trinka. We really do not understand her character. Toward the end, a small amount of politically-oriented material enters in that is handled ineptly as it attempts to identify the imperial interests interested in exploiting African resources. This doesn't help the film either.

Consequently, the film, while watchable for the most part, inasmuch as Penn is in almost every scene, does have its weaknesses, leaving me to rate it as average. I'd rewatch it for the well-staged action sequences and for the difficulties faced by Penn's character, but I doubt it would become a favorite.
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