Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

‘The Gunman’ Reviews: Does Sean Penn’s New Movie Hit The Bullseye?

Fri, March 20, 2015 11:56pm EDT by 7 Comments
The Gunman Review
Courtesy of Anton Capital Entertainment (ACE)

Sean Penn has been an actor for many years, but this may be the first time he’s ever starred in an action movie. Sounds exciting, but before you run out to watch him kick some butt, read our review roundup! Does ‘The Gunman’ hit the bullseye? Find out!

In The Gunnman, Sean Penn plays a retired mercenary who’s trying not to get killed. The globe trotting action-filled thriller, which also stars Javier Bardem and Jasmine Trinca, sounds super exciting. But what do the critics have to say about this movie? Read the reviews!

‘The Gunman’ Reviews — Sean Penn’s New Movie Misses The Mark

The critics were pretty much in agreement, when saying that Sean Penn did not succeed in capturing the magic that turned Liam Neeson into an action star.

Sadly, Penn’s veiny, sweat-glazed biceps are the most objectively impressive feature of this rote, humorless thriller, a distinctly unconvincing attempt to refashion the star — who also co-wrote and produced — as a middle-aged action hero in the Liam Neeson mold.


That the dire writing doesn’t completely ruin the whole enterprise is a testament to Morel’s deft hand with an action scene, but also to that overqualified cast: Penn is appropriately intense and glowery, and Bardem’s turn as a love-sick, soft Judas actually manages to be touching. The Gunman passes the time, but it never quite reconciles its conflicted nature. It’s not smart enough to be a paranoid thriller, nor fun enough to be a blood-soaked action flick.


The Gunman is a pretty terrible action thriller, as it’s a by-the-book exercise that adds no new twists and few interesting character shadings to a rather standard “anti-hero must kill his way to freedom and save his girl” story.

The LA Times

Instead of a pot-boiling crime noir like the one that exists in the pages of the late French novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette’s “The Prone Gunman” (which sounds better in French), the adaptation is a frustrating fiasco that kills the material and squanders its exceedingly fine cast.

NY Times

Mr. Penn, aiming for weary, battered intensity, settles into a zome somewhere between fatigue and indigestion. Jim’s bouts of forgetfulness, blurred vision and vertigo — results of a carreer of international headbanging – are meant to add some vulnerability to the character but really add only a layer of contrivance to the plot, which runs out of steam long before the lose ends are tied up. Mr. Bardem at least seems to be having fun, playing a big, silly drunk scene and exiting the movie before things get completely stupid. The poor gunman has to stick around until the end.

Ouch! Well, HollywoodLifers, will you still see The Gunman despite all the poor reviews?

— Jason Brow