Director Pierre Morel directed the cult French hit District B13 but he didn’t direct the sucky American remake. Morel directed Taken (2008) but he didn’t direct the gosh darn awful sequels. That is to say that Morel knows his way around action films, what works and what doesn’t.
Morel’s latest film The Gunman follows an assassin (Sean Penn) over a period of eight years. At first we see Penn take out a high-ranking minister of an African country with a high-powered rifle (American Sniper style). He flees the country leaving his girlfriend in the care of his best friend and also a member of the assassination team Javier Bardem.
Several years later Penn looks up Bardem (now married to Penn’s ex) because people are trying to kill him. The other members of the team are dead. Jasmine Trinca, Mark Rylance, Ray Winstone and Idris Elba co-star.
The Gunman unwinds realistically enough considering it’s a movie with people constantly shooting at each other in public with automatic weapons. Penn brings a constant sense of retribution that goes a long way in making The Gunman above average. That said, the filmmakers tag on a happy coda to the film that feels out of place with what has gone before.
- Michael Bergeron