The Gunman (2015)



Critic Consensus: 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.

Movie Info

THE GUNMAN, the new action thriller from Pierre Morel, the director of Taken, stars Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance. (C) Open Road

Rating: R (for strong violence, language and some sexuality)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Don MacPherson, Jean-Patrick Manchette, Pete Travis, Peter Travis
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 30, 2015
Open Road Films - Official Site


as James Terrier

as Barnes

as Stanley

News & Interviews for The Gunman

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Gunman

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (38)

Rarely, though, have two Academy Award-winning actors been so stunningly off the mark in the same movie.

Full Review… | March 27, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Sean Penn will have to wait for a better project if he wants to be the next Liam Neeson. [full review in Spanish]

Full Review… | July 2, 2015
Butaca Ancha

Sean Penn is without question the greatest actor of his generation, but that doesn't necessarily mean he can carry an action movie.

Full Review… | June 9, 2015
Spliced Personality

Penn's mumbling and the occasional thick British accent sometimes make the proceedings a little hard to follow, but director Pierre Morel knows how to stage his shoot-'em-ups with a potent visceral charge.

Full Review… | May 30, 2015
Sacramento News & Review

The pathetic gender politics, so common in dick-flicks like these, seem particularly simplistic and yucky here. Penn never manages the tough-guy shtick and the plot overburdens him with dilemmas. Director Morel can't offer any lights-out action sequences.

Full Review… | May 25, 2015
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

There are plenty of shootouts and punch-ups but the film's most entertaining sequences revolve around Jim using his head as opposed to his fists.

Full Review… | May 4, 2015
ABC Radio Brisbane

Audience Reviews for The Gunman

A tough, mature and grown-up action movie, Director, Pierre Morel solidly hits his mark with a story with tons of suspense, character development, spectacular action and a awesome cast. An explosive and gritty action-packed edge of your seat thriller. It's an electrifying and pulse-pounding film. Sean Penn is riveting, he perfectly fits the mantle of action hero and is welcomed to the crowd of mature stars. It also have fantastic performances from Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Javier Bardem and Idris Elba.

Al S

Super Reviewer

Gunning for a raspberry at an automatic clip, musclebound Sean Penn's attempt at becoming a Liam Neeson-style action hero unfortunately causes the audience to recoil with every pump of the trigger. Oh, the titular character certainly looks the part, cut like an UFC fighter and angrier than Christian Bale on the set of Terminator Salvation, but the deathly serious tone laughably handicaps what amounts to an expensive bullets and brawn B-Movie. Treating the same B-Grade material with an almost fanatical religious sternness, the story laughably misfires as well. Injected with a personal political bent by the producer, the already uninspired story becomes even duller when the lead a paycheck-cashing assassin retires to become a virtuous do-gooder, building wells and third world hearts before his past comes back to haunt himone of many such heavy-handed instances.

In this R-rated actioner, a former Special Forces soldier and military contractor (Penn) suffering from PTSD tries to reconnect with his long time love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name.

The producer, of course, also proves to be the star: Sean Penn, an actor known for sticking liberal foot in mouth on many an occasion. While the well-meaning actions of his character are far from an egregious affront away from the confines of the script, here they become self-important grandstanding. Worse, Penn (a very deserved Best Actor Oscar winner for Mystic River and Milk) inhabits the part with the same laser-intensity as with Dead Man Walking. This is the same actor who reportedly took swipes at Nicolas Cages thespian credentials when the latter starred in Con Air. At least Cage knows how to literally roll with the punches with tongue firmly in cheek. Perfect physical specimen Penn kicks and hits like the best of them but, in approaching The Gunman like it was an Ingmar Bergman masterpiece, his character quickly becomes more expendable than an Expendable.

Bottom line: I Am Sham

Jeff B.
Jeff Boam

Super Reviewer


The Gunman, which takes Sean Penn and does the only thing Hollywood now knows to do with aging male actors by turning them into would-be action stars, has some rather interesting elements to it. There is a clear issue to be addressed here that a news reporter even states while looking directly into the camera at one point which is that of large corporations seeking control of the development of resources in poor and impoverished countries. Where our titular gunman comes into the fold is when America's corporate and government contractors hire mercenaries to knock off Third World socialists in order to protect their profits. The issue here is that the film presenting these issues is neither as compelling nor as important feeling as it would like us to think it is. As directed by Pierre Morel (Taken) the film clearly knows it is a genre film, but even with this approach one would be hard pressed to find anything fun or interesting that it brings to the mix of this current crop of action flicks. As fun is clearly not the game this film wants to play one has to ask what unique or original element it brings to the table and in that regard there isn't much to discuss. Much like Get the Gringo, The November Man or even After the Sunset, The Gunman deals with the standard tale of an aged assassin somehow gone awry after his supposed last job who is looking for redemption as he comes to terms with mortality that also happens to feature exotic locations. Morel can always be counted on for highly-stylized and rather beautifully rendered action sequences especially considering his backdrops, but unfortunately here they end up being more riveting that the story or the characters they serve. As mentioned near the top, there are certainly some interesting elements at play including the overall mission statement of the film as well as the largely metaphorical, but extremely literal medical condition that Penn's character suffers from. It also cannot be argued that The Gunman features an impressive cast with a great mix of acting styles that fuse for some interesting moments, but there still remains a hollowness to the production that is inescapable and ultimately renders the film as unaffecting.

read the whole review at

Philip Price
Philip Price

Super Reviewer

The Gunman Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Gunman on our Movie forum!