Alright, so this week we continue our wait on Fantastic Four. You may be asking “But Jamie, didn’t you say that Fantastic Four would be out around now? What’s going on? This isn’t some elaborate ruse like the 8th episode recap of the Vineyard where you continually claim that Fantastic Four is up next, but it never actually happens, right? We can only take so much. I still don’t know what happened to Meathead and Small Fry! Did they find love?! Did Other Girl ever actually have a relevant plot?!” Don’t worry guys, we swear it’s coming. It’s just that with the complex VOD release schedules it’s hard to tell when things are coming out for streaming purchase vs. rental or if they come out on disc before that or several weeks after. I guarantee, though, that it’ll be done by Christmas. It will be disappointing if I have to purchase Fantastic Four on Vudu as a Christmas present for my bro all in the name of watching the film for BMT… but if it must be done, it must be done. For now we’re just collecting the best of the best (READ: worst of the worst) to try to make sure we cover some of the more plausible BMT releases of the year prior to Razzie nomination season. This week we are hitting up The Gunman starring Sean Penn. Because when Taken came out who didn’t think, ‘Yeah, it’s OK… but what if it starred Sean Penn?’ Let’s go!
The Gunman (2015) – BMeTric: 28.0 (at the time), 28.6 (February 20, 2016)
(It seems, given the new Jan/Feb data points, like the BMeTric has settled into a more expected trajectory. Probably plateauing just a shade under 30, but above average nonetheless. The Gunman being a stalwart in the Netflix streaming library is probably helping to keep the votes rolling in.)
RogerEbert.com – 2 stars – It lurches from one banal scene after another before settling into a third act that forces Penn to appear in some of the silliest scenes of his career —and when I say that, bear in mind that I once paid cash to see “Shanghai Surprise” during its brief theatrical release.
(Huh, that synopsis doesn’t sound much like a 2 star film. Seems like he didn’t want to go too hard on Penn. Don’t have much more to say about this.)
(Besides the inherent ridiculousness of Sean Penn as an action star (given his acting history) I kinda dug this. All-star cast. The thing I would fear is that it is crazy confusing.)
Director(s) – Pierre Morel – (Known For: Taken; District B13. BMT: From Paris with Love; The Gunman; Notes: Known as a cinematographer for The Transporter. He was attached as a director of a new Dune adaptation before the project was scrapped.)
Writer(s) – Don MacPherson (screenplay) – (Known For: Absolute Beginners. BMT: The Avengers; The Gunman; Crossing the Line. Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay, The Avengers (1998))
Pete Travis (screenplay) – (BMT: The Gunman. Notes: Mostly known as a director. Directed potential BMT film Vantage Point.)
Sean Penn (screenplay) – (Known For: Into the Wild; The Indian Runner; The Crossing Guard. BMT: The Gunman. Notes: Now I think I understand why this film exists and why Sean Penn is in it. I bet he really, really liked the novel (old, French, existentialist crime fiction… that sounds right up Sean Penn’s alley) and signed on to the film and just looovvved doing some rewrites on it and stuff.)
Jean-Patrick Manchette wrote the novel “The Prone Gunman” that this is based on.
Actors – Sean Penn – (Known For: Mystic River; 21 Grams; Milk; The Game; Carlito’s Way; The Tree of Life; The Interpreter; Dead Man Walking; The Thin Red Line; Sweet and Lowdown; The Assassination of Richard Nixon; Fair Game; Casualties of War; State of Grace; Bad Boys; At Close Range; Colors; The Falcon and the Snowman; Before Night Falls; Taps; U-Turn; The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty; Fast Times At Ridgemont High. BMT: I Am Sam; Gangster Squad; The Gunman; The Weight of Water; Shanghai Surprise; All The King’s Men. Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor, Shanghai Surprise (1986). Won Oscars for Milk and Mystic River. Nominated for Oscars for Sweet and Lowdown, I Am Sam, and Dead Man Walking.)
Budget/Gross: $40 million / $10,664,749 ($10,664,749 Worldwide)
(Egad, you read that right. Second week in a row with a massive bomb. This opened as the 37th worst 2500+ release, just 5 spots back from Unfinished Business. Funny that it didn’t get a foreign release at all since this was actually a France-U.S. joint production)
Rotten Tomatoes: 16% (24/149), 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.
(“… overshadowed by its star’s physique.” Ha! This can be taken in two totally different ways. How I originally read it was that Sean Penn’s dad bod was so dad bod that you couldn’t tear your eyes away from its dad bodishness. However a picture like this from the set:
make me think that the implication is that his sleek physique was so on fleek (God, I’m the worst) that you didn’t even care about the boring plot or set pieces. Either way is good for BMT.)
Poster – Sean Badass (B+)
(I actually really dig this poster. I like the dark theme to it contrasting with the scarlet red. Original font. Nice symmetry. Not sure I would like it as much if there was a different main actor. I think Sean Penn’s “natural” neon orange skin tone really pops here and completes the poster.)
Tagline – Armed with the truth (C)
(This is pretty mediocre. Gives me just enough hint at the plot. Gives me just enough cleverness. Gives me just enough brevity. But nothing is actually good in any regard.)
Notes – Although the film was produced by veteran action producer Joel Silver, Silver was removed from the editing room after one visit and the final cut of the film was supervised by actor Sean Penn and director Pierre Morel. (Odd note. He’s a producer… does he generally do editing on the films he produces? I would love it if there ended up being a Silver Cut of the film released to DVD.)
Javier Bardem was reportedly paid US $5 million dollars for his supporting role in the film. (These are the facts we love to get here at BMT HQ. Interesting.)
Based on the novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette. (Yeah it is. Unfortunately neither me nor Patrick will get around to reading it before recapping. Rats.)