Sean Penn plays the title role in “The Gunman,” an ex-mercenary getting long in the tooth who is now a target for assassination.  Believing that his past, dirty deeds is now catching up to him, Penn makes uneasy visits with the surviving members of his previous team to get answers to his questions of who is trying to kill him and why.

Complicating matters is the accumulated head trauma from all his previous missions that makes him dizzy and pass out (quite a liability for a gunman); and an ex-girlfriend who is now the wife of a man who may be part of the group trying to kill Penn.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when we finally see Penn in full action: no longer a merc, he is helping to dig a well in the Congo.  All is fine until three men armed with rifles and machetes come to kill him.  As expected, Penn lays out the bad guys in brutal fashion, a small taste of what he’ll do to dozens more throughout the movie.  The look on Penn’s friend is priceless, as the guy thought Penn was just some ordinary dude trying to bring fresh water to the poor people.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Gunman” is the fight scene between Penn and the main henchman of the main bad guy.  The fight is brutal, bloody, and fast.  No fancy-schmancy martial arts that don’t work in real life — just hard-hitting moves that destroys your opponent in the least amount of time.

Fans of “Taken” should be happy with “The Gunman,” as it runs within that action subgenre.  But let it be known that “The Gunman” doesn’t have as much action scenes as the trailer would have you believe.  I found this to be refreshing because it added more realism to the story.  Seriously, how many times during one day do you expect your hero to get into a gunfight?  Don’t worry, “The Gunman” moves along at a good pace despite the lack of action in most of the first act and the half of the second act.  Plus there’s the mystery of who is trying to kill Penn for the audience to chew on.

Of added benefit to the female and gay audience is the numerous times Penn’s ripped physique is shown.  Is it excessive (the amount of times his body is shown, not the body itself)?  Of course; but when you’re in your mid fifties and you can still look like that, you want to show it off.  So I say good for Penn…show off all that hard work, bro.

— M