Gun (2010) Review
Gun was directed by Jessy Terrero (Prospect, Soul Plane), written by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Righteous Kill, Escape Plan 2: Hades), and stars 50 Cent, Val Kilmer (5 Days of War, A Soldier’s Revenge), Hassan Johnson (Flatbush Misdemeanors, Frankenhood), Charles Malik Wakefield (Hub City, Grindin’), James Remar (Drugstore Cowboy, Black Lightning), Paul Calderon (Band of the Hand, Pistol Whipped), AnnaLynne McCord (The Weapon, Titanic 666), and John Larroquette (Night Court, The Librarians). It’s about a gun runner whose business and personal lives come under threat from law enforcement and a mole rooting out the discrepancies.
The Plot: From the book of Scarface comes a story without that film’s understanding of meteoric rises and balancing subplots. As far as low-budget action plots go, 50 Cent certainly wrote one of the (sic) stories ever.
Business is about to boom for Michigan-set gun runner Rich (Fiddy) after taking out some rivals in his field and re-teaming with old cohort Angel (Kilmer). Although urban areas of Michigan are prone to gun crime, officers Rogers (Remar) and Jenkins (Calderon) have a hunch as to who’s behind the recent spate of shootings and want to bust the merchants. He’s a man of multiple talents, but screenwriting doesn’t fit under Jackson’s belt, as Gun starts with a cliche empire and requisite subplots that this entails. Because the film is about a rise, there must be a fall, and that’s what makes up the majority of the plot here.
Between being hunted by the cops and the ATF, Rich also finds that there’s a leaker in his midst, which could be either of his right-hand men, Clinton (Johnson) and Dante (Wakefield), Angel, or Gabriella (McCord), his in-between for potential client Boedecker (Larroquette). Cliche as this storyline is, there was still a chance to reinvigorate it with proxy combat or light espionage elements, however, all of the story material mentioned above is tossed for long lengths in lieu of sex scenes and only cut back to so the audience is reminded that they existed in the first place.
Scenes with the leaker are the most interesting, as there are a few engaging moments of undercover operation, but Gun lets its focus on nothing get in the way of its admittedly rote plot.
The Characters: Just about everyone is weirdly hollow despite the script being written by a huge personality. Archetypes are accounted for and there’s the faintest trace of emotional weight, but nothing lands.
Rich had a rough upbringing that isn’t much different from what he does now. After his father died due to his weapon’s failure to fire, Rich changed his focus from thievery to gun running. I’m not quite sure why he’d want to sell weaponry to the same kind of people who were responsible for his vocation, but Gun is too busy giving the character a ruthless but banal demeanour and a laundry list of complementary skills. The vast knowledge of firearms is the only standout trait since it fits with the rest of the film.
Associates of the leading man’s criminal empire are equally generic, though the mole among them does have an interesting reason for their actions. Angel was a career crook who made a decidedly sympathetic decision to help Rich flee from a deal gone bad, and now the favour is being repaid a decade later after his release from prison in the way of a position at the top of the crew. Clinton and Dante are just lackey yes-men for their boss, shielding him from anyone remotely suspect out of what seems to be respect, but who really knows; Gabriella acts similarly but her motive of sexual attraction is much clearer, as this is her only identifiable trait.
Lawmen as secondary characters are rarely gifted much in the way of personality, and Gun makes sure to maintain the status quo, as both Rogers and Jenkins are over the hill officers who grumble over budget cuts and forced compliance with federal agents. Every single character is created from recycled material. Props for the green approach, but it’s hard not to shrug at the execution.
The Action: By my guess, Terrero and the producers seem to have spent most of their money on the rather strong cast, as the action is remarkably bland for a feature bearing the name “Gun” unless a slightly different arsenal counts as a shakeup.
In order to make the bucking of Rich’s competition look like something gang-related, he and his crew have an interesting plan that represents the movie’s most original setpiece. A local peer frequents a nightclub, so Clinton and Dante use firecrackers to get the occupants to flee, where Rich waits to complete his task. In the process, several innocents are killed, which could’ve given Gun some violent subtext, but it largely goes ignored; at least the action itself is mildly inventive.
Little of the movie’s second act is spent in action, as Jackson’s script is more focused on selling and shopping weaponry as opposed to using it. Obviously, the two go part in parcel, so the gunfights happen in the usual alleyway, vacant lot, and warehouse settings with little to show in terms of scale or viciousness. There’s not much choreography to speak of either, since the movie sticks closely to its title, making the lacklustre action photography another misfire amidst many others.
One logically expects the collapse of an empire to be a spectacle, and the movie does deliver on its finale to a degree. With Rich, the cops, the ATF, and Boedecker converging on each other, there is a massive shootout full of blood and casualties, but this still retains the blandness of the action direction. Despite a couple of nice explosions and a wannabe poetic final burst, it’s still mediocre, but that is at least a step up from the weakness of the prior action.
The Technics: A lot of low-budget outings blend together from a technical standpoint by their very nature. It’s the people behind the cameras that make the difference, and Gun has an odd group running the show.
Without any good films under his sparse repertoire, Terrero was a peculiar choice for the director’s chair. His work isn’t incompetent, but it’s too listless and unremarkable to stand above the litany of other, more visually and narratively interesting DTV offerings on the market. Though the film stays true to its Michigan setting because of its on-location shoot, cinematographer Zeus Morand (Heavy Petting, Dice City) doesn’t have anything to capture or any style to spare. Everything is drenched in drab colours and a generic lighting style that gives off no visual character in a movie that needs something to grab onto.
It does seem that the filmmakers knew that they were making a rehash of a rehash (repeat until your heart is content), so the movie is at least brisk at a mere 82 minutes including credits. Mistakes are obvious within that timeframe, such as a few terribly dubbed lines and some repeated footage when its presence didn’t make sense, but the get in and get out attitude was a good one to have for this movie.
I cannot overstate just how perfunctory Gun is. Not a beat, character, shot, or line hasn’t been done better by dozens of other movies. That’s not to say it’s an unwatchable film; it’s too competent for that, but aside from the cast, it’s an empty film.
Gun is available on Digital platforms.