The Gunman is exactly the type of movie you would expect if you are familiar with Pierre Morel's previous movies. Banlieu 13, Taken and The Transporter to name but a few. And like in those films the main draw is the no nonsense action. Anyone expecting more or something else will be disappointed. That being said it does help to have Sean Penn as the lead. And it can be commended that they at least tried to make his character a little interesting regarding his love interest. But of course it is entirely predictable and useless. In fact it takes too much time away from what you should be watching this film for in the first place. Which is the action. There is very little plot to speak of and it's too drawn out for it's own good. And the only reason you keep watching is that Sean Penn always manages to stay interesting. Now there are some bigger names involved like Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and Idris Elba. But to be honest their roles are very minimal and very negligible.
The Gunman versus Run All Night:
For some reason The Gunman is put against Run All Night. While both movies are about former assassins they could not be more different. But I do want to point out that for me The Gunman is the better movie. In other articles you will read how Run All Night is superior and I honestly fail to see why that is.
While The Gunman is quite slow also, it moves in a much faster pace than Run All Night. It also does not try to pretend more than it is like Run All Night. It keeps things simple and to the point. We might not get to know the main character as much as we should but we know enough to root for him. Run All Night went all melodrama on us showing a drunk Neeson being made fun off and begging for money but while at the same time is supposed to be Ed Harris's best pal. Logic wise you would think that no one would want to mess with someone who is considered a friend of the big boss. Of course this was just to make us feel sympathy for Liam Neeson's character. Granted they do something similar to Sean Penn's character also but that was more to add more tension to the action scenes and not to evoke more sympathy. Every ounce of sympathy is credit to Penn's acting. The way he carries himself is enough to make you care for him without having to resort to false melodrama. Although The Gunman also has some questionable plot devices but in hindsight those can be explained and mostly serve as red herrings. Run All Night also promised to show some real acting violence between Liam Neeson and Ed Harris. And this never took off. All we got instead was mindless action.
The Gunman offered a much more enjoyable viewing experience because it plays out like I expected it would. It never promises us more than it can deliver as opposed to Run All Night. The action scenes are solid and fun to look at. Would I watch it again? Probably not. But it's worth watching at least once. And for the duration doesn't feel like a waste of time.