Sunday, 12 August 2018

Netflix And Chill: Gun Shy (2017)

Antonio Banderas is a very good actor. He's arguably too good for the daft material he has to work with here but, nevertheless, he sinks his teeth into the role with great gusto. And he's one of the few big plus points about the film.

Here's the plot. Turk Henry (Banderas) is forced to go on holiday with his wife (Olga Kurylenko). She wants to explore the local area. He wants to laze around and drink beer. Unfortunately, his wife is kidnapped, but the ransom is only $1M, which isn't a lot to Henry. He wants to pay but the American agent (Mark Valley) working on his case doesn't want him to. Paying the ransom would be tantamount to funding terrorism in his eyes. So Henry goes to another guy, an independent who gets results (Martin Dingle Wall). Meanwhile, his wife is teaching her captor (Ben Cura) into being a better leader to his men.

Simon West doesn't know what to do with this material, and he's not helped at all by the script, written by Toby Davies and Mark Haskell Smith (the latter having written the source novel, "Salty", that the film is based on). There's not nearly enough action or thrills, which wouldn't be a big deal if any of the comedy was better. Despite the performance from Banderas, the laughs are thin on the ground. The funniest moments come from snippets of Metal Assassin, the band that Banderas was in, singing their greatest hit, "Teenage Ass Patrol". Given how much I enjoyed the stupidity of that song, and at least one other played over the end credits, I wish that someone had been brave enough to turn this into something closer to a rock musical. It had the potential to go all the way up to 11.

Aside from Banderas, the other great performance comes from Wall, all gleaming white teeth, casual misogyny, intelligence hidden behind his laid-back facade, and genuine fun every time he's onscreen. Aisling Loftus is also enjoyable, playing an assistant who travels over to help Banderas. Valley is obviously supposed to be a fun character, but the comedy feels too forced, Cura is fairly bland, and poor Kurylenko isn't given enough to do, apart from be the target that Banderas keeps in his sights as he staggers and bumbles through the whole situation. You also get a small role for David Mitchell, who is even more wasted. I like Mitchell. I think he can be very funny. He's not very good here.

It's probably most telling that the end credits have numerous extra scenes that feel incongruous compared to the mess that came beforehand. One character is even returned from death, only to be killed all over again (I'm assuming that was an alternative ending that the makers decided to stick in there for fun). It sums up the entire movie.

A few people may like Gun Shy more than I did, but I am willing to bet that it won't be many of you. As hard as he tries, Banderas cannot do enough to salvage it.


Gun Shy can be streamed here in the UK.
Americans can buy it here.

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