Calvary Rebounded

The Gunman

gunman

Director: Pierre Morel

Cast: Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Mark Rylance, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Jasmine Trinca, Peter Franzen

Taken director Pierre Morel brings to cinematic life an above average thriller The Gunman based upon the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette pairing Oscar winners Sean Penn (Mystic River, Milk) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) together for the first time.

Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, England and Spain, Penn plays an off the books Mercenary who is unwillingly hired to assassinate the Minister of Mines in the DRC after his announcement that the war torn country would be limiting foreign owned mining companies from operating in the ravaged but mineral rich central African country formerly the Belgian Congo.

gunman_ver5Dubbed operation Calvary, once the assassination takes place in 2006 Terrier was to leave the country and the continent and also that of his love interest, NGO worker Annie played by Italian actress Jasmine Trinca.

Fast forward eight years to 2014 and Terrier is targeted back in the DRC by some mean looking machete welding men and soon hightails it back to London after a narrow escape. Back in England, he confronts the mastermind of operation Calvary, the shady British businessman Cox played by Mark Rylance (Anonymous, The Other Boleyn Girl).

Terrier soon realizes that all the men involved in operation Calvary have been killed only leaving himself and boozy Spaniard Felix played by Bardem. The action thankfully moves to the fabulous Catalonian capital of Barcelona where things really heat up as Trinca realizes that her former flame is alive and well. After a very bloody shootout in a Spanish villa, Terrier travels to the British protectorate of Gibraltar to finally confront the real culprit in this scandalous and dangerous international cover up.

Unfortunately director Pierre Morel’s film The Gunman despite having two A list actors in it, suffers from the wait of its own importance and does not nearly come close to such masterpieces as the brilliantly directed Fernando Meirelles thriller The Constant Gardener based on a John le Carre novel.

The Gunman has all the right ingredients including shady Multi-Nationals plundering Africa’s vast mineral wealth, a covert operation which went horribly wrong and a doomed love affair which is finally reconciled.

gunman_ver4Penn gives an impressively muscular performance as the mercenary Terrier but Bardem and even Golden Globe nominee Idris Elba (Mandela, Pacific Rim) are wasted in this overlong meandering thriller which despite the exotic locations could have been neatly edited. The script needed an incisive treatment by Oscar winning scriptwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, Rush).

The Gunman is an average thriller and although at times exhilarating lacks a clear vision and less contrived plot, although the bullfight sequence at the end certainly is inventive. Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed The November Man and The Constant Gardener. Look out for cameos by Ray Winstone (Noah, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Finnish actor Peter Franzen as the crazed gun for hire.

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