Sunday 15 March 2015

The Gunman review

The Gunman (15/R, 115 mins)
Director: Pierre Morel
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Sean Penn becomes the latest actor to take a shot at over-50 action stardom with this overwrought Euro-pudding that has ideas way above its station for a movie from the director of Taken. A prologue set a few years ago in war-torn Congo introduces us to Penn as part of a team of mercenaries protecting a humanitarian aid crew. While they're there they also happen to have a sideline in assassinations, and Penn’s shooting of a government official comes back to haunt him in the present day when he links an attempt to kill him to the plot. As an exercise in globe-trotting, The Gunman is slick, its fights are crunching and the body count is massive, and Penn does get to showcase some nice skills in a couple of decent action sequences. But it’s all rather dour and much too leisurely to convince, jazzed up with a classy cast (Javier Bardem, Mark Rylance and Idris Elba are in there too) yet hardly any more legitimate than The Expendables, with its attempt to call attention to humanitarian issues proving risible. It’s a Jason Statham movie that thinks it’s fancy, too silly to be taken seriously and too serious to be any fun.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Run All Night review

Run All Night (15/R, 114 mins)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

There’s something to be admired about the ambition of this thumping thriller that looks on paper like another delivery from the Liam Neeson action assembly line. Playing a much more interesting character than he often has recently, Neeson works as a hitman for neighbourhood mobster and long-time friend Ed Harris. When Harris’s wayward son botches a deal, Neeson is forced to kill him, in turn forcing him and his own estranged son to go on the run. It’s muscular stuff, featuring the standard punch-chase-shoot shenanigans, and every bit as daft as you could hope for. It may be called Run All Night, but it’s not quite as non-stop as the title suggests, with quite a few diversions along the way to slow the pace. Still, that offers some moments for reflection between Harris and Neeson, and a good deal more character depth than expected, even if it does borrow its plot points liberally from Road to Perdition. Neeson still has a particular set of skills, this time with some substance to back it up, topped off with a fun cameo from the only actor in the world even more grizzled than he is.