Sean Penn is the latest in the line of older Hollywood men to play the revenge driven, ex special forces hard man who is trying to get vengeance having been jipped by a baddie. Liam Neeson, Keanu Reeves, kevin Costner, and Denzel Washington have all had a go and now it’s the turn of Sean Penn. Not the kind of role you expect for him given that he has previously played character roles in Milk and I Am Sam to name just two. This kind of film is obviously a hot favourite at the moment after the success of Taken. It spawned two sequels and a lot of similar roles for Liam Neeson who is trying to rack up more in film kills than Sylvester Stallone. The Taken director Pierre Morel directs here too, it seems like he can’t get enough either.
Now this film does have some good things going for it. Mark Rylance is in the film in what I hope will be the start of him appearing in more films because Jimmy cricket he is good. He does put on a kind of weird gravelly voice at times which to be honest is just weird but he is such a good actor that you let him off. Ray Winstone is also great, basically he just plays Ray Winstone but that works here so it’s alright. Idris Elba pops up also in a similar situation to Cuba Gooding in Pearl Harbour, his part is criminally small. The action sequences too are cracking. Morel knows how to shoot a car chase and close hand combat and so you know from the outset that you are in for a treat in those respects.
So yes there are good things on show. But sadly there are some bad points too. And they are very bad indeed. Firstly the story itself is flimsier than a pair of Simon Cowell’s linen trousers. It lumbers from place to place after setting up a tepid scenario with two dimensional characters. Javier Bardem plays one of these characters in a performance which is the very definition of the phrase ‘phoning it in’. It’s a weird performance which isn’t helped by a laboured script. Such a shame after how brilliant he was in skyfall.
Sean Penn also has his top off. A lot. A lot a lot. Obviously he has been to the gym recently and is proud of it. But it is at times funny how often there is a close up of his pecs, literally when I saw the film there were people laughing in the latter stages of the film when Penn seems to be allergic to his shirt. Bless him. That must be annoying.
I haven’t said much about Sean Penn yet. And that’s because…..well…….there isn’t much to say. He’s ok, I guess. He is convincing in the fight scenes and other than that he is, well, alright. That sums up the film in general really. It is very tepid and with the cost of going to the cinema recently (especially with the ending of the orange Wednesday deal – heartbreaking) it isn’t a surprise that this films box office takings have been pretty poor. It opened with takings of £406,000 compared to the £1.7 million that Taken made.