Shakespeare once wrote “All the world’s a stage” and C.J. Renner took him literally when he filmed GUNN, an old-school gangster film played out entirely on a theatre stage. But it’s not merely a filmed play, it’s something a bit more.
Elston Gunn (Andrew Stecker) is one of mob boss Sam Foster’s (Richard Keats ARROW) top men. He’s also married to Winnie (Anna Stranz MILES BETWEEN US, DARK CLOUD), Sam’s daughter and getting attention from Victoria (Amanda Day ZOMBIES), Sam’s woman. But things aren’t all good for him. Rival gangs are pushing into their territory and the cops are gearing up to take everyone down. And Sam doesn’t really seem to care. That’s when things really start to get strange.
First and foremost GUNN is a noir gangster tale and a damn good one. It sets itself up well and tells a solid story that would probably go over well with folks who miss BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Then it takes a mad turn in the final act, even while sticking to its gangster plot. One that will have you, as well as Elston, questioning what is real.
The fact that the film is shot on a stage, with theatre props rather than on locations seems a bit odd at first. But after a few minutes, you really stop noticing and go with it. It does give the film a unique look, even just in terms of the lighting and cinematography. The use of shredded paper, etc for blood reminded me of another film that plays with reality, DAVE MADE A MAZE.
The setting only becomes an issue again at the end when the plot itself needs it to be one. I was dreading that it would be done in a heavy-handed manner, but it actually all segues together nicely. Even the final shot that once again asks you to question things from yet a different perspective. And it still fits within the gangland plot. It’s quite impressive storytelling.
GUNN is interesting, odd and very entertaining. Despite its theatrical setting and final act twists, it’s not an overly artsy film. It is intelligent and does ask you to think but it does so in the best of ways.
GUNN is currently available free on Amazon Prime. If you have it there’s absolutely no reason not to give it a chance.