FILM REVIEW: Gun Shy

Imagine that you’ve gone to a party with your partner. You don’t know many of the people at this soirée, but the champagne is flowing, the music is pumping and your partner seems to talking with friends. But then something happens – before you know it your partner is nowhere to be seen; they’ve gone to get another drink perhaps, or use the toilet. Now there’s a guy talking to you about something hideously boring like the exchange rate of Papua New Guinea and you’re looking for an out – some break in the conversation so that you can politely make an excuse to leave.

But the guy doesn’t take the hint – and he’s just made a joke. It’s not particularly funny in the slightest but he’s looking at you for a reaction – you don’t want to seem impolite so you nod and smile, which just acts as an enabler for another joke. This one is even worse, but you snigger along and feel the muscles in your face spasmodically twitch. You wish the ground would open up and consume you, just so you would be out of this situation, but your partner is nowhere to be seen. So you listen. You listen and slowly a piece of you dies.

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Gun Shy is an action-comedy starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko that unfortunately lacks not only comedy, but also action. It’s an odd film that seems to embrace teetering on the edge of ham fisted ridiculousness and full blown, out of your depth, clumsy and embarrassing farce. It’s the film equivalent of that guy at the party – telling one abysmal joke after another, looking at you with pleading eyes to really like him so that he can continue justifying his existence in the world.

Banderas looks like the caricature bastard child of 1980’s Mötley Crüe and Twisted Sister, portraying Turk Henry, the former bassist for Metal Assassin, a band of rockers whose most famous song is “Teenage Ass Patrol.” Ever since he left the group to marry his supermodel girlfriend Sheila (played by Olga Kurylenko) dubbed his Yoko Ono, Turk has secluded himself like a late Howard Hughes in his Malibu mansion, where he spends most of his time drinking beer, failing to make any new music and pondering the nostalgic times as a hedonistic rock star. In the opening scene, his slothful nature has reached such a heightened apex that when he watches a disparaging MTV-style news segment making fun of him, he angrily decides to toss his big screen television into his swimming pool, but gets his servants to do it instead.

Sheila manages to encourage him to get off the sofa and accompany her on a vacation to his birthplace in Chile (although he adamantly states that he comes from England, a ‘joke’ that will repeat itself throughout the film) and when they get there, she goes on a sightseeing tour and gets promptly kidnapped by Chilean pirates…only they’re not really pirates, they’ve only been doing this for nine hours. When they realise who she is married to, they demand a one million dollar ransom. He has the money and is more than willing to relinquish it in exchange for Sheila, but he’s unable to get a hold of his manager (a woefully underused David Mitchell) and instead employee Marybeth (Aisling Loftus) takes it upon herself to fly out to Chile with the money. The real villain in this piece is an ambitious federal agent (played by Mark Valley) that seems to believe that the pirates really are terrorists, and uses the situation as a potential step up the career ladder.

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It’s hard to imagine what demographic Gun Shy is aimed towards. Sometimes it plays as a slapdash physical comedy (that is if your idea of comedy is watching Banderas fly down streets of Chile atop a suitcase, watching a misogynistic mercenary use cringe worthy lines on Marybeth) other times it seems like everyone onset was told to shout as loud as they could and overact as much as possible. It’s entirely possible that if the script had been given finer treatments, the premise could have been made into a genuine laugh riot. Director Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) can portray action comedy on the screen very well, so it’s a shame to see Mark Haskell Smith and Toby Davies’ (working from Smith’s novel) script turn out this way. The only time I came close to laughing was a well edited piece at the end with a weird Bollywood-esque dance routine, cutting back to Marybeth in a bar.

Banderas seems to be enjoying himself though, and it does look like the cast had fun making this film – it’s just a shame that the energy they exuberate didn’t seem to translate into something funnier.

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2 OUT OF 5

Available On:  iTunes, Amazon, BT, Google Play, Microsoft Store, Sky Store, Sony Playstation Store, Virgin Movie from January 8th

Review by Anthony Self

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