The Gunman

tgThe film starts with Sean Penn being all smiles with his best girl by his side in some far flung locale. Javier Bardem plays an associate who clearly has a thing for this girl. Mark Rylance shows up as… I don’t know, another guy.

Soon enough, it’s revealed that these guys are part of a black ops team, and one of them (Penn, natch) has to kill a prominent figure and then disappear himself from the continent.

With the opening necessities complete, we shift forward a few years and watch as Penn tries to understand why a hit squad is trying to take him out when he’s being all noble and redemptive, trying to help the very people he threw into turmoil years earlier. Now he shifts into Jason Bourne mode, jumping from country to country, seeking out his erstwhile comrades, all of whom are doing way better than he is, monetarily, if not morally.

If the film was a straightforward tale of betrayal and survival, I might have enjoyed it more. That the subplot of Bardem wanting the girl had to figure so prominently is a disappointment. And there’s this other dumb subplot about Penn dealing with cumulative head trauma that plays like a PSA instead of an obstacle for the character. In fact, it only really figures into one action sequence at the end, when he conveniently has an episode that allows Rylance to start monologing about why he’s so evil, blah, blah.

Penn does nice work throughout, and the action scenes have a tightness and tension that works, even though they still feel like B-roll from Taken.

Enjoyable for what it is, and not much more.

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