Tag Archives: Penn

The Gunman

21 Mar

‘The Gunman’: Penn is almost mightier than weaknesses of misfiring action film


Sean Penn jumps into the action genre – or that’s the tag everyone’s layering onto his involvement in “The Gunman.” In concept the film, a thinking person’s espionage thriller with a serious thespian at the fore and an international slant, has the bones of “A Most Wanted Man,” “The Constant Gardener” and even the Bourne films, but that’s as far the genetic similarities go. In the bigger kinetic rendering, the uneven pacing and seemingly smart twists that suddenly nosedive into cliché confine the film much the same way its uninspired title does: The obvious is floated as a banner that implies something more and deeper to come, but it never does.

032015i The GunmanPenn’s up for the role as a gun for hire, employed by a Blackwater type org that pulls the strings behind the soldiers of fortune in movies such as “Dogs of War.” His Jack Terrier (I kept thinking dog too) is buff, physically well oiled and ready for action at the drop of a pin. His only weaknesses are that he smokes and, while on assignment in the Congo, falls for an idealistic aid worker, Annie (a fetching Jasmine Trinca).

Given the film is directed by Pierre Morel, who steered Liam Neeson through much mayhem in “Taken,” you’d think Annie’s safety would be that catalyst for the gloves to come off, but the film (based on the 1981 novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette) is more concerned with corporations deploying operatives in third world hell-holes to tip the balance of power for profit. Annie serves mostly as a raw point between Jack and his handler Felix (a misused Javier Bardem) after an assassination of the Congo’s mining minister ripples across the years and continents. Continue reading

The Game

17 Mar

R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 09/18/1997,

The Game

David Fincher’s grandiloquent mind fuck works tirelessly to maintain its heightened, if heavily engineered, state of paranoia. The film’s relative success lies in the dark, eerie moodiness that the director elevated to an art form in Seven. Here, however, his visual palette barely masks a slight, manipulative plot.

As Nicholas Van Orton, Michael Douglas resurrects his Wall Street creep, Gordon Gekko, except this time Douglas’s scrutinizing power broker has a hole in his life: he lacks love and excitement. So for his 48th birthday, Nicholas’s loopy black-sheep brother Conrad (Sean Penn catching minimal screen time) gives him a gift certificate for a high-concept gaming experience, a personalized adventure that comes to the player. Nicholas’s endeavors are surprisingly mundane as he is plagued by a series of minor life tragedies and near-Twilight Zone encounters that imply something larger and more devious is at work. The rocky blur between reality and fantasy aspires to be a Hitchcockian After Hours, but at two hours plus, The Game gets played out early on. Douglas and Penn help keep things credible with solid performances, and Deborah Kara Unger extends the sexual immediacy of her Crash role by playing the object of desire who doesn’t wear any panties.