By Daniel Barnes
Or: Assassin’s Crud.
It should be clear to everyone by now that Idris Elba is entering an Ed Harris-ian, good-in-everything sort of acting zone. No matter how low the vehicle or how small the part, it’s a lock that Elba will be command his scenes, and the stakes seem to imperceptibly rise whenever he’s on screen. Elba’s role as a suave and determined Interpol agent in The Gunman is essentially a glorified cameo, just two or three scenes in the final act, but he’s good enough to make you wonder why you haven’t been spending the last ninety minutes watching a film about a suave and determined Interpol agent played by Idris Elba instead of this brainless hitman crap. Sean Penn plays an assassin in hiding whose shady dealings with boss Javier Bardem during the civil war in Rwanda come back to haunt him years later, when he’s discovered and ambushed by unidentified thugs. Nearly killed and on the run from hired killers, international spies, law enforcement agencies, and his own shifty-eyed, murderous ex-colleagues, here are the first three things that Penn’s character does: 1) Make and keep a public appointment with a shifty-eyed, murderous ex-colleague at the place where he used to work; 2) Start a bar fight; 3) Check into a public hospital to have extensive medical records taken. He then insists that he can’t hide out in a hotel because his name would appear on the hotel registry, even though faking names on a hotel registry is something that people do for fun. The Gunman is not a particularly well-written film, but at least it’s also poorly directed, and wastes the time and talents of several world-class actors. Awful, just awful.