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Gunman, The


Stars: Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Mark Rylance, Ray Winstone, Idris Elba, Jasmine Trinca

Director: Pierre Morel

There's lots of fierce gunplay in this somewhat inferior Bourne imitation, and it's just as well as, after a strong first half-hour, credibility quickly flies out of the window. Subtlety, too, is in short supply.

A bulked up Penn comes on like a mini Sylvester Stallone as Jim Terrier, the 'special forces' ex-mercenary who, eight years ago, on orders, killed a prominent Congolese politician and threw the whole country into chaos.

Now, in 2014, he seeks penance drilling for water in the same country, but it soon becomes apparent that someone is trying to eliminate him for what he knows about the past. Terrier, though, is a tough man to kill, as he displays martial arts, single combat and shooting skills worthy of James Bond and Bruce Lee combined.

Penn at least takes this seriously, unlike some members of the cast, who overact with unattractive gusto, notably a mumbling Bardem, while Rylance, uncomfortable away from his Wolf Hall beat, cuts a ludicrous figure as the ex-Congo colleague turned prosperous businessman who may not be trustworthy.

Winstone, also along for the ride, is typecast as Penn's gruff associate who swears a lot, and Elba is in for a cough and a spit as an Interpol agent who contributes too little, too late to the action.

And what are we to make of the writers setting the finale in a Barcelona bullring, followed by an end-credits disclaimer that bullfighting has been banned in the city since 2011?

David Quinlan

USA/Spain/South Africa 2015. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Technicolor.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 15 Mar 2015