Richard Roeper Blog

‘The Gunman:’ Veers dangerously close to camp in the final scenes “D”

“The Gunman”

I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Academy Award winners Sean Penn and Javier Bardem star in the international action thriller “The Gunman.” I’m pretty sure it’s not a musical! My review right now.

The most shocking thing in “The Gunman” might be that 54-year-old Sean Penn seems to have taken out a membership at The Sylvester Stallone School of Insanely Rippled and Veiny Muscles. With free bronzing sessions thrown in!

No wait. The most shocking thing: two Oscar winners giving maybe the worst performances of their respective careers in the same movie.

Penn plays Jim Terrier, a military contractor and special ops gunman in strife-torn Congo in 2006. It’s dangerous work, but Jim’s having the time of his life, what with all the male-bonding drinking–plus he’s shacking up with the beautiful and exotic Annie, a saintly doctor at the local clinic.

Ah, but Javier Bardem’s Felix is obsessed with Annie. He arranges for Jim to be the triggerman and take out the country’s Minister of Mining. That means Jim has to leave the continent and Felix can swoop in on Annie! Bahahahaha.

Cut to eight years later. Jim’s trying to make amends by working for a relief organization in the Congo. Some of his former colleagues are now businessman in London. Felix and Annie are married and living in Barcelona. Then someone puts out a hit on Jim, and all hell and violence and muddled intrigue breaks loose.

Shootouts, car chases, “Bourne Identity” combat sequences shot with hand-held cameras in extreme closeups.. Where have we seen this before? I know! In a HUNDRED OTHER MOVIES.

Bardem’s Felix is such a wasted opportunity. Instead of being a worthy adversary, he’s a drunken, insecure fool. And the great Bardem hams it up to the point I thought he might grab his chest and keel over.

Meanwhile, Jim keeps finding excuses to take off his shirt and casually flex his pecs. He’s also suffering from post-concussion syndrome, which Penn portrays by grabbing his head in agony and screaming, as his vision goes blurry and his ears ring while he has horrible flashbacks. It’s a cheap and obvious way to portray a very real and very serious condition.

Filled with gruesome violence in which the camera lingers on victims after they’ve been stabbed in the throat or gored by a bull (I’m not kidding) or shot in the heart, “The Gunman” veers dangerously close to camp in the final scenes. If you make it that far without walking out. I give it a big fat D.

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