The Gunman is all over the place. It's a completely unfocussed movie, spending way too much time on the backstory that at one point I thought it was going to be the main plot, but then what happens? We get the "six years later" title card, although even by that stage I'd lost interest in this film. And in case the first twenty or so minutes weren't messy enough, the film then decides it would like to add in countless subplots, irrelevant supporting characters and then pretend that Javier Bardem and Idris Elba are the leads, when in actual fact they have about five minutes of screen time total between the two of them.
With Taken, the lead actor is Liam freaking Neeson. I will love that man in everything he's in, so the fact that I cared about his character was a plus. With this, Sean Penn's character didn't give me anything to connect with. He's just your typical, run of the mill dude and because of that, I found myself extremely bored. Sure, they try to add in a disease, but this is only utilised in two scenes, neither of which were that investing.
But it's Sean Penn that actually does the best job, acting-wise at least. He co-wrote the script as well and while that's far from amazing, his performance is admirable. It's not Mystic River levels of amazing, that scene where he asks if his daughter is dead still sends chills down my spine, but he does the best with what he's given, even if what he's given is rather embarrassing for his career.