Blu-ray Review: The Gunman (2015)

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On paper The Gunman probably sounded like a great idea. Director Pierre Morel had directed one of the most relentlessly exciting action films in recent years, Taken. Give him an expert cast led by Sean Penn and let him tell the story of a hit man whose dangerous past has come back to haunt him. Maybe it would’ve worked if it had remained that simple. Jim Terrier (Penn) carries out a customarily flawless assassination in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eight years later, individuals connected to that target are seeking retribution against Terrier.

gun15 (380x253).jpgWhat seems like a pretty straightforward template for a fast-paced action thriller gets bogged down in politically-motivated tangents. There are enough subplots weaving in and out of The Gunman to give even the most patient, attentive viewers a headache. Penn pulls off the action hero thing convincingly (a shirtless scene reveals how impressively sculpted he is at 54). The beautiful and highly acclaimed Italian star Jasmine Trinca makes a fine romantic lead, gracefully portraying health care worker Annie. Something of a love triangle has developed during the eight years between the initial DRC assassination and present day, what with Annie having hooked up with Terrier’s former partner Felix (Javier Bardem). But it’s all a confounding mess. Whether it was director Morel’s fault or just a confusing screenplay (co-written by Don Macpherson, Pete Travis, and Sean Penn), there’s no real zing to the action sequences.

As expected, Universal’s new Blu-ray edition is top-notch from a technical perspective. The cinematography of Flavio Martinez Labiano is well represented. The audio is offered as a Dolby Atmos mix, which defaults to a superb Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix for those without Atmos-enabled gear. Marco Beltrami’s score blends nicely with a robust combination of ambiance and occasionally gunfire-ridden action scenes. Not that any amount of technical perfection can save a movie as turgid, pointless as The Gunman, but for what it’s worth Universal has delivered the good here, as usual.

Possibly because The Gunman flopped so resoundingly in theaters, the Blu-ray contains absolutely nothing in the way of special features. The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a standard DVD and downloadable Digital HD copy.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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