Coming from writer/producer/star 50 Cent (the acclaimed rapper who’s attempting to make the jump into mainstream acting, and is now going by his given name; Curtis Jackson), Gun is an action/thriller about revenge, illegal arms dealing, and how dangerous a legally purchased gun can become, should it fall into the wrong hands.
50 Cent stars as Richie Taylor; a street level arms dealer who opens the film by trying to eliminate all of his competition (by way of a somewhat cleverly devised, remorseless execution), before attempting to move up in the trading world by expanding his inventory, and creating bigger and better deals that will of course, make Richie richer.
Joining Richie on his quest to flood the streets with guns is an old friend, and recently released convict, named Angel (Val Kilmer, Heat); a bitter and ageing street thug who acts as Richie’s muscle, and has some unknown personal business to take care of; and a number of Richie’s cronies; including the quiet Clinton (Hassan Johnson, The Wire) and the hot headed Frankie (Malik Barnhardt, Get Rich or Die Tryin’); all of whom have now come under the watchful gaze of grizzled police veteran, Detective Rogers (James Remar, Dexter), who’s determined to nail Richie and his crew for not only gun running, but a string of murders that have begun to occur around the city.
Gun’s plot is a fairly generic one that’s been played out in numerous big and small budget pictures, and while 50 Cent started the script as a socially conscious movie intended to show the world the wrongs of arms dealing, how gun company’s profits have been rising during a recession, and how easy and dangerous it can be for a legally purchased gun to fall into the wrong hands, it devolves into nothing more than a fairly average cops and robbers film that could really have been played out in a single episode of a TV show such as The Shield.
However, despite its unoriginality, Gun does start off on a pretty high note; diving right into some pretty decent action, and begins with a fairly engrossing storyline, that’s actually quite engrossing; as it’s interesting to see the dynamic between Angel and the rest of Richie’s crew (who are less than impressed at having a white man, who’s a complete stranger, suddenly knowing all of their business), learn the ins-and-outs of Richie’s business, and watch as the obsessive Detective Rogers attempts to convict the entire crew.
Gun’s also helped by having some fairly solid performances, as Val Kilmer, despite not receiving any high profile roles for a number of years (Bad Lieutenant was his largest recent role, but even that didn’t do especially well), is still an extremely talented actor who slots into most parts with ease, and should have really had a much brighter career, as should James Remar; who may not be as high a calibre actor as Kilmer, but gives a fairly strong showing despite having somewhat shallow material to work from and playing a pretty stereotypical character; the only real disappointment from him being that this role is far less memorable than his turn as Harry in Dexter.
The supporting cast are all fairly mediocre; but act to as high a standard as you would expect from watching a movie such as Gun (although having a brief appearance from Machete’s Danny Trejo was a nice touch); and while 50 Cent may not be an actor by trade, and plays what is once again a fairly stereotypical character, he actually slips into his role of the low-level arms dealer with ease; meaning it should be very interesting to watch how he attempts to cope with a more serious role in the upcoming movie Things Fall Apart.
Action is infrequent, fairly mild, and pretty generic, and while Gun does get off to a fairly promising start, it unfortunately all falls flat in the final act; as all the various plot elements that had been coming together just suddenly merge into a warehouse shootout with no real warning, set-up, or follow through (almost seeming as if there are three or four explanatory scenes missing), that means a story it was quite possible to get invested in (despite what seemed like it was supposed to be a twist becoming evident from only a couple of minutes in) has no payoff, and leaves anyone watching feeling rather hollow.
Gun’s opening acts show that 50 Cent has potential as a screenwriter, his performance shows that he has promise as an actor (especially given the fact that he comes loaded with an inbuilt fan-base and bags of street-cred), and given that Gun has a few decent supporting roles, a few shootouts, and a couple of sex scenes, it’s guaranteed to be enjoyed by any Cent fan, and anyone who enjoys similarly budgeted, small-time, action movies; just don’t go into Gun expecting the next Departed, or you will be sorely disappointed.
Gun’s video transfer is also far from stellar; as its low-budget roots show through, providing an image which is coated in a consistent level of grain (that’s slightly higher than it needs to be to maintain a gritty feel), has a fairly soft feel overall, and even though detail is adequate for low budget action movies of this nature, could have been much higher and served better, if not presented via a transfer that seems washed out, drab, and devoid of any real attention.
There’s too much noise, some evidence of blocking, and a bit of crush, which means Gun’s video cannot be counted among the top new DVDs released; however that wasn’t its intention; and while the transfer is more washed out than the style choice calls for, it still fits well enough within the genre for a film with its budget, and anyone who enjoys cheap, easy to watch, action movies (the likes of which are usually found for a bargain price at a market stall) shouldn’t find Gun’s picture too distracting, or off-putting.
However, the 5.1 DTS audio track for Gun shines well above what one would normally expect from a low budget flick of this nature; as not only do the score, and numerous hip-hop tacks that make up the soundtrack (and actually come as quite a distraction; by periodically reminding every viewer that Richie is really a rapper named 50 Cent), successfully take over the entire soundfield and spread well through all channels, but there’s also plenty of consistent ambient noise to be heard, a fair bit of gunfire, and bass that can be shockingly powerful when it wants to be; making for a surprisingly impressive listen that may not be demo quality, but certainly won’t disappoint fans of the film.
Unfortunately, GUN comes to DVD without even a single special feature, or piece of bonus material, save for the film’s trailer; a disappointing discovery, as there’s no doubt many of 50 Cent’s fans would have enjoyed learning about his writing inspiration, his acting goals, and seeing a basic making of for the movie, whilst instead fans will be left with next to nothing, and find themselves sorely disappointed by Gun’s lack of extras.
The Bottom Line:
Gun is what it is; a low-level action movie that was never going to break any records or reach any truly impressive heights; and while it does show that 50 Cent has potential as both a screenwriter and an actor, it fails to truly captivate its audience by being nothing more than a completely predictable, totally generic, paint-by-numbers, cops-and-robbers movie that gets off to a good start, yet falls apart with its seemingly rushed and flaccid final act.
Some of the supporting cast are fine actors, and lend the movie a degree of extra credibility, however with the picture and audio quality of the DVD being pretty average, and there being no discernible special features to speak of, it doesn’t may for an especially compelling DVD purchase.
Sure Gun show’s that 50 Cent has promise as a screenwriter (he’s clearly no Aaron Sorkin, but puts in a good first effort here), and while the latter half of the film does basically fall apart, and make for a bit of a disappointment, it’s still not a bad watch, and should be enjoyed by most of 50 Cent’s fans, and anyone who likes low budget cops-and-robbers movies.