Movie Review: The Gunman

It’s been far too long.

I’m not going to lie, 2015 wasn’t a good year for me in a lot of ways, but here’s to 2016 and a fresh start. To get things going, since I’ve been gone for forever, I’m running a blogathon. I’ll be posting every day for at least the next week and will have a Movies in 2015 post up by the end of the month. That’s something else I want to talk about real quick. I saw a lot of films this year and I didn’t write reviews on them. I’m sorry about that and I intend to end that habit here and now. More reviews and more fun for us all. Here’s to 2016. Cheers and enjoy today’s post.

When the trailer for this came out early in 2015, I knew to avoid it, but when I’m scrolling through Netflix and see an opportunity to see a film from the current year, I usually take it, even if I know it’s not going to be an enjoyable one.

The Gunman is that opportunity and while, like me, you may be inclined to hit the play button on this one, I would strongly encourage you not to.

Plopping down the street like a haphazard drunkard, The Gunman bumps into nearly every obstacle possible on its way down the alley of degradation. It’s not hurting anyone so much as it’s being a nuisance to society and you just want to throw it in a cell for a few days until it gets itself back together. However, like the story of Humpty Dumpty, The Gunman never comes back together again. After shattering itself on the pavement in the opening stanzas, there’s no tug or general want to see where this story takes us, especially when “8 years later” appears on the screen before the film’s reached 15 minutes.

A general note: Any time jump of more than a year is a bad sign and any competent director should avoid such time jumps. Unless your story is a jump from childhood to adulthood a la J.J Abram’s Star Trek or due to a prison sentence a la Double Jeopardy, there’s rarely a need to do this. For the purpose of flow, I would advise all stories to avoid doing this. Most times I see the phrase “years later” impress itself upon the screen, I can feel my whole body sink a little and my brain begin to cringe inside my skull. More often than not, prepare yourself for some shoddy storytelling because it’s all downhill from here. Surprise, surprise: The Gunman‘s no different.

Director Pierre Morel, whose name you might recognize as the director of the hostage hit, Taken, doesn’t know what he’s doing here and his expertise as a cinematographer is never utilized here. You would think a film directed by someone who found his place in the industry through visuals would demonstrate said talent when he was at the top of the totem pole, but evidently not. The Gunman is an insipid piece and one of the more calmer action films you’ll see from 2015. Our star character, Jim Terrier (Penn), might be the most boring assassin a camera has ever followed. With no moral qualms to highlight and no reason to fear him or view him with awe, Terrier holds no cards in his hand of any value. Penn’s tenacity is an afterthought to a script that’s glancing up at the clock anxiously waiting for it to all be over. The plot wasn’t thought out well, the villain’s motive is illogical and the points the plot decides to emphasize don’t resonate at all.  There’s no grit or ear-splitting tension in the script’s action sets and no cold, collected dialogue that grips. With a clunky plot and a supporting cast that’s more of a nuisance than it is a help, poking holes in The Gunman isn’t all that difficult.

The Gunman is that Christmas present that you don’t want to open and you do your very best to slowly push it into a corner and hide it under a blanket or anything within reach. You know what it is, you don’t want that and you want it to go away. Problem is, the present is obnoxiously large and so out of place that there’s no way to hide it and so you’re called out on it, are forced to open it and do so begrudgingly with a look of disgust and frustration on your face as you unmask this abomination.

Out and open to see at this white elephant party, everyone looks at it with the same sense of distaste as you, only confirming the inherently-flawed product left before you.

It’s when you look at films with good writing and even great writing that you look at The Gunman and realize how truly awful this film is. Before 2015 was out, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hateful Eight and The Revenant, and they’re all galaxies ahead of this. I watched Insurgent recently and again, it’s so far ahead of this. The Gunman is just bad. It has plot holes, the action it does offer is segmented and Penn is left on an island trying to make his case as to why his character is relevant. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Time to move on to the next film.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (CreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson PeakThe MartianBlack Mass)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2Beasts of No NationTerminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwisted)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (EverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitz)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Ridiculous 6, The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErased)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Gunman: 29.

It’s a short one to get this blogathon started but to summarize, The Gunman is one of the worst of 2015 and with failings in every department, it’ll probably make my worst of 2015.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Gunman

  1. Dan O. says:

    Good review. It’s not terrible. But pretty hammy, whenever the action’s not around.

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