The Gunman Blu-ray review

Po-faced action-thriller packs in plenty of acting talent but forgets to bring the fun

Eight years ago black ops specialist Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) had to flee the Democratic Republic of the Congo after being involved in the assassination of the Minister of Mining. However, the past has finally caught up with Terrier and somebody from his old organisation appears to want him dead. Forced to go on the run across Europe, he tries to discover who is out to get him while unexpectedly reconnecting with the lover (Jasmine Trinca) he was forced to abandon all those years ago. 

On paper The Gunman has a lot of things in its favour. Not only does it boast an impressive cast (including Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Mark Rylance and Idris Elba), it's helmed by Pierre Morel – the lensman who gave Liam Neeson his late-career makeover with 2009's blockbuster Taken. Yet, for some reason, it never quite comes together. The action scenes are skilfully assembled (and the beefed-up Penn is a convincing brawler), but the connecting material doesn't satisfy due to some haphazard storytelling. Furthermore, there's a tiring seriousness to the whole endeavour, as if the film is trying to convince you that it has an important point to make rather than accepting that it's nothing more that a run-of-the-mill actioner.

But even if The Gunman isn't the next Taken, it's no Taken 3 either, which is something in its favour.

Picture: The Gunman lands on Region B Blu-ray with a visually-arresting AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode. The razor-sharp image not only displays a high level of detail, it also serves up a palette of punchy primaries that seem to pop out of the screen. While contrast intentionally runs a little hot, black levels are stable and hold plenty of clandestine info.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The Gunman is StudioCanal's first foray into the world of Dolby Atmos. We'll be reporting on the mix at length in an in-depth Dolby Atmos investigation in HCC #252. Look out for it in shops from September 24! 

Most buyers, of course, will make do with the core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track. This proves to be an enjoyable alternative thanks to its effortless spatial immersion. While the gunfights impress the most, it also works hard to paint a full sonic picture, relishing the bustling pan-Europe locations, including – memorably – a bull fight.

Curiously, StudioCanal's Blu-ray also houses a fairly redundant DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack as well.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Disappointing extras take the form of four short promo featurettes, plus very brief interviews with actors Mark Rylance, Pierre Morel and Ray Winstone. Not worth bothering with.
Extras rating: 1.5/5

We say: This Blu-ray delivers more thrills than the movie itself thanks to its first-class audio and imagery

The Gunman, StudioCanal, Region B BD, £23 Approx