Often we hear of all these non-profits, some of them governmental, some not, doing various kinds of missionary-style work in poor or developing, but almost always vulnerable nations with propped up governments. A lot of funny business goes on in these places, usually in the Middle East or in various African locales.
Last night I happened upon a film, The Gunman, Sean Penn did a fine job of trying to tell the story of the greed and corruption behind or surrounding the best of the do gooders. As a paid assassin, Penn’s character tries to live the rest of his life making up for his previous bad acts. But he is a witness to the truth and THEY come for him. As they had for the others. It can be seen as just another action film. However only seen as superhero crap — if that is what you are looking for – the film is mediocre.
If you are looking for more, you’ll find it. It is a microcosm of most governments – certainly ours – where those at the highest levels of power are protected against prosecution of the crimes they committed against the people over whom they have the power. And as long as the few have the money and the influence, and the many are too frightened or dumb – I should say uninformed, shouldn’t I? – nothing will change. Even Penn’s character is only activated when he realizes he is in the crosshairs and essentially, has nothing to lose. If this were an action film, he would win in the end. Instead it flirts with noir, something the novel has in spades.
For me this was extraordinary cinema. A man, with right on his side, against the impossible. I hadn’t realized as I watched it that I had previously read it. The directors, Penn being one of them, took some liberties. The Gunman was based on The Prone Gunman, the short novel by the acclaimed French crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette and first published in English by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore in 2002.
In addition to Penn, the cast of The Gunman include Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and Jasmine Trinca
Watch it no matter what the online reviewers have to say. And read the book. Both are worth the time and could be done in the same evening. If you are staying in, maybe some Pernod or Absinthe. Okay, stay in.
I have written previously about Manchette. If interested in reading more, go here