This is strictly a matter of personal taste, but I prefer my shoot em’ up style action flicks to be light on the preachy politics and heavy on the ass kicking suspense.
Now, I realize any movie starring Sean Penn is going to be heavy on the former. I found I could mostly ignore that though.
Penn here plays a government assassin who has been put out to pasture after a big job down in the Congo. In the years since that job he has had to cut off all contact with his fiancée, who is now married Javier Bardeem (who plays a fellow former government spook who now runs his own multinational corporation) and lives on a posh mansion in South America.
One day our retired hero, while trying to peacefully live out his life helping underprivileged children dig wells, finds himself being attacked by various hooligans. Thankfully they all attended the ACME school of marksmanship, and so he survives to track down the people who are after him.
In the mean time he reconnects with his former lady friend, sets his former partner’s house on fire, and lays waste to a small army of people that are sent after him. Penn is effective enough in the role, but he lacks the action hero charisma of a Liam Neeson, although he is a fine actor in his own right.
Without spoiling too much, I will admit I loved the ludicrous finale here that took place in a bull fighting stadium. But for the most part, this is an easy to skip low key affair.
I had a small amount of fun with it, but there’s not enough laughs or big gags for it to work as a good “dumb action movie” and the characters are not developed enough and the plot is far too paper thin for it to work as a smart one. Thumbs in the middle.
The Gunman gets a two out of five: DECENT.