Martin Terrier (Sean Penn) takes a moment from his murderous humanitarian work to catch some waves in Gunman.

Martin Terrier (Sean Penn) takes a moment from his murderous humanitarian work to catch some waves in Gunman.

Reel Reviews: Sean Penn shows off his guns

Gunman is a realistic Taken, if there can be such a thing.

  • Mar. 29, 2015 5:00 a.m.

Martin Terrier (Sean Penn) is an ex-Special Forces soldier trying to escape his old life by helping NGO’s dig wells and vaccinate the poor in areas such as the Congo.

However, when his team of bodyguards, including Felix (Javier Bardem) and Cox (Mark Rylance) are ordered by “the Corporation” to assassinate the Congolese minister of mining, in order to keep flowing the ravaging of their natural resources, Terrier becomes a trigger man who must go into hiding.

Leaving behind his girlfriend Annie, (Jasmine Trinca) Terrier stays hidden for eight years. When he returns to the area, trying to find Annie, he discovers there is a plot against his life, to keep the truth of his past a secret.

We say, “Gunman is a realistic Taken, if there can be such a thing.”

TAYLOR: I liked Gunman, which surprised me. I was expecting another shoot ‘em up based on a stack of preposterous deeds committed by men past their prime. What I watched was a film that felt like it was ripped from recent headlines, with a very believable plot acted out by actors who had reasonable boots to fill.

Sean Penn spends a lot of time with his shirt off so you can see that he’s got the muscles to fit the bill and the other men he destroys, while admittedly being lousy shots, stay down when knocked down. I think it’s probably fair to say this is a “man’s movie.” Annie seems to be the prize in the film; she spends most of her time running, crying and being pulled between the good and bad guys. Gunman isn’t really breaking any new ground, but rather than be laughably ridiculous, like a lot of action movies, it at least kept me engaged. It also has a message.

HOWE:  Yeah, the message is that I am fed up with 50-plus year olds running around making the same movie but with just a different title. It’s not that Gunman is a bad movie, it’s just that we have seen the same story, but in a different part of the world. We’ve been to Turkey, Mexico and now Africa in the last 12 months with different actors in films with same plot and outcome.

Don’t get me wrong, Penn does a fine job, better than Liam Neeson in the Taken movies, but why does Penn have to take his shirt off every five minutes to show how ripped his body is? It’s like he’s advertising to the ladies, who aren’t coming to this movie.

TAYLOR: The muscles helped convince me of his capability. Similarities to Taken could stem from the fact that Gunman was at the helm of the same director, Pierre Morel. The other fact that might be helping this film be a little more enjoyable than other action films is the depth of the backstory, based on the noire novel, The Prone Gunman by French novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette. As I mentioned, basing the film in the world of greedy corporations who will do anything to make money also helped maintain my interest.

HOWE: So if it’s a double crossing, lots of shooting, lots of killing type of movie you’re after, then this is right.

Taylor gives The Gunman 3 months in the gym out of 5.

– Howe gives it 2.5 non original scripts out of 5.

Reel Review with Taylor and Howe appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.