Spanish actor Javier Bardem gave the world chills with his 2007 performance as the ambiguously foreign, stone-faced psychopath Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brother’s masterpiece No Country for Old Men, and managed to pick up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor along the way. Now, eight years after that turning point in his career, Bardem is back with similarly evil intentions, this time masked behind the thoughtful, professional exterior of an international operative intent on covering up some dirty deeds from his not-so-distant past.
Starring Sean Penn and Idris Elba, The Gunman follows Penn’s Martin Terrier as he attempts to leave behind his career with a shadowy international agency and settle down with the love of his life. The agency, however, has other plans, and Terrier is forced to go on the run across Europe in order to save his proverbial behind. The film’s French director, Pierre Morel, is perhaps best known for directing Liam Neeson in Taken, and The Gunman seems to fit firmly into the action-thriller genre he so gracefully mastered in that 2008 hit.
Morel’s background as a cinematographer is writ-large across The Gunman’s trailer, which deals in moody, atmospherically lit interiors that alternate the between soft, diffuse light leaking in through windows in Penn’s more lovey dovey scenes and the imminent danger transmitted by shadowy interiors dominated by orange and green hues. Other, more standard genre requirements such as sweeping panoramas of international locales and explosions of all types are present throughout, as are the low frequency drops and driving, percussion-heavy score that seems to be recycled with little variation from one film to the next.
Even with less than a minute of screen time in The Gunman’s 2-plus minute trailer, Bardem manages to convince as a terrifying and remorseless nutjob, hiding behind a thinking man’s spectacles and well-tailored continental suits. But who knows? Maybe the guy’s got a soft side. We’ll have to wait until the film’s release to know for sure.
The Gunman opens in theaters on March 20, 2015.