The Gunman is a 2015 French-American Action-Thriller film directed by Pierre Morel and written by Don Macpherson, Pete Travis and Sean Penn, based on the novel The Prone Gunman, by Jean-Patrick Manchette. It stars Penn, with Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, and Javier Bardem appearing in supporting roles. The film was released on March 20, 2015 by Open Road Films.
An ex-soldier who carried out an assassination in the Democratic Republic of Congo finds his past catching up with him eight years later.
Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is a former special forces soldier who, in his 50s, has become a black-op mercenary. He is part of a team deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, under the cover of providing security to local projects. He falls in love with Annie, a fellow expat working as a doctor in a local hospital. During this period, even though civil war has wracked the country, large multinational mining companies continue to profit from the country's mining industry. After the Minister of Mining announces his plans to declare contracts with the mining companies unjust and renegotiate the terms, the mining companies hire Jim's team to assassinate the Minister, to ensure their access to the rich mineral resources. Jim delivers the fatal shot from a sniper rifle and flees from Africa, leaving Annie behind. After that, Jim retires from his mercenary career.
Eight years later he returns to DRC as a charity worker to build wells. One day he is brutally assaulted by a local hit squad, but he manages to kill them all. While searching the attackers' bodies, he finds signs that the attack was not random and that he was the target. Scared and suspicious, he flees to London to meet an ex-mercenary colleague, who reveals that Cox, their ex-boss in the Congo assassination, has formed a large international security firm offering its services to major clients, such as the Pentagon. The firm's head wants to eliminate all of the former members of the assassination squad, as revelations of their former activities could hinder the development of the new firm, so the firm's hit teams chase Jim around the clock, meanwhile killing his friends and kidnapping Annie.
However, Jim still keeps highly compromising materials that can reveal Cox's role in the Congo assassination and uses it to lure Cox and his team to a bullfight in Spain, threatening to expose their complicity unless they trade Annie for the evidence. Unknown to them, Jim makes a deal with Interpol to deliver them and provide evidence to aid their ongoing investigation. Despite battling severe head trauma suffered from his violent past, Jim defeats the mercenaries sent to kill him. As he struggles to help Annie escape to safety, Cox discovers them. Jim is wounded but manages to shoot Cox, who is then gored by a loose bull. Interpol arrive and take Jim into custody, though Agent Barnes promises to do what he can to help Jim avoid doing more jail time than necessary.
- Sean Penn as Jim Terrier
- Jasmine Trinca as Annie
- Javier Bardem as Felix
- Ray Winstone as Stanley
- Mark Rylance as Cox
- Idris Elba as J Barnes
- Peter Franzén as Reiniger
- Billy Billingham as Reed
- Daniel Adegboyega as Bryson
- Ade Oyefeso as Eugene
Circa January 2013, French action director Pierre Morel (Taken) entered negotiations to direct Sean Penn in Prone Gunman, an action thriller being produced by Silver Pictures’ Joel Silver and Andrew Rona. The film is based on the 1981 novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette. The project, from Silver Pictures, was fully financed by StudioCanal, who sold out rights to the film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
In May 2013, Deadline reported that Javier Bardem would play a villain. In June, Deadline said that Ray Winstone had just joined the film. He played a mentor of the hitman (Penn), who is betrayed and then hunted by the organization he worked for. Jasmine Trinca is the female lead. Bardem played Trinca’s husband, and Elba played a mysterious operative named Dupont.
The film grossed $5 million in its opening weekend, finishing at 4th at the box office.
The Gunman has received generally negative reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 16% approval rating, based on 140 reviews, with a rating average of 4.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "With an uninspired plot and rote set pieces that are overshadowed by its star's physique, The Gunman proves a muddled misfire in the rapidly aging Over-50 Action Hero genre." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 39 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
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