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Gun DVD Review

Gun (2011) DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com Gun

Video Debut: January 4, 2011 / Running Time: 82 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Director: Jessy Terrero / Writer: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson

Cast: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (Richie Taylor), Val Kilmer (Angel Hawkins), AnnaLynne McCord (Gabriella), James Remar (Detective Rogers), Hassan Johnson (Clinton), Charles Malik Whitfield (Dante), Paul Calderon (Detective Jenkins), Mike Malin (A.T.F. Agent Monroe), Mark Famiglietti (A.T.F. Agent Peterson), John Larroquette (Sam Boedecker), Danny Trejo (Frankie Makina), Josh Carrizales (Valentine), Michael Matthias (Massimo), EJ Scalzi (Yuppie), Christa Campbell (News Reporter 1), Kristin Kandrac (News Reporter 2), La La Vazquez (Mona)

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; Not Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $27.97; Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($29.97 SRP)
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover

Buy Gun from Amazon.com: DVD Blu-ray

Last year, I found myself on the press mailing list for Image Entertainment and became more aware of just how many movies miss the general public's radar, going direct to video or close enough despite the presence of high-profile stars.
Though Image is but one studio specializing in small, independent fare, even they don't seem to go more than a couple of weeks without bringing to disc a movie you almost definitely haven't heard of featuring some actors you most likely know of.

Image releases a wide variety of content, much of it plagued by enough problems to understand why it hasn't secured wider release or a more familiar distributor. From them, I most recently reviewed the Icelandic slasher flick Harpoon: Whale Watching Massacre, which was every bit as obscure and lowbrow as it sounds. And yet, that didn't look nearly as ludicrous as Gun, Image's first release of 2011. The cover art features rapper/actor 50 Cent, transitionally billed here as Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (crediting Dwayne Johnson would approve), in a white tank top and wool hat, with a firearm in each hand. Behind glowing, volcanic him stands Val Kilmer with a weapon of his own and a golden shoulder-length mane of hair. "A City Caught in the Crossfire," reads the tagline, entering this film into the generic urban crime genre and doing little to quell expectations of ridiculousness.

Rich Taylor (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) may be a serious businessman, but that doesn't stop him from flashing a smile while demonstrating his wares for a potential client. For Angel Hawkins (Val Kilmer), the adventure begins with a release from prison after ten years served.

Jackson plays Rich, the leader of a growing illegal weapons business who asserts his authority in a film-opening nightclub massacre. Shortly after, the bloated Kilmer is introduced as newly-released convict Angel. Angel catches up with his old friend Rich and is quickly welcomed into the gun lord's small posse without suspicion. The gang deals a substantial volume of top-of-the-line weaponry, some powerful enough to penetrate Kevlar. They also off people, with or without reason. Meanwhile, the operation is being investigated by a couple of weary veteran police detectives (a game James Remar and Paul Calderon), who only need evidence to confirm what they know and put Rich away indefinitely.

Jackson not only stars in and produced this film; he is also single-handedly credited with the story and screenplay. This is his second try at writing movies; his first was Before I Self Destruct, a drama that was released with the rapper's 2009 album of the same name. While Jackson even directed that film, recently slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit, here he lets Jessy Terrero, director of Soul Plane and at least four 50 Cent music videos, take the helm. That doesn't render Gun any less of a vanity project and a meritless one at that.

The soundtrack consists of songs by 50 Cent and other artists belonging to his G Unit record label. Their lyrics about bullets whistling and such don't add weight to the images they accompany, nor the threadbare story they tell. The story doesn't even begin to take shape until the final half-hour, when a twist reveals the presence of a criminal informant among Rich's crew. It's a familiar angle that does nothing to diminish Gun feeling derivative and routine.

Detectives Rogers (James Remar) and Jenkins (Paul Calderon) feel pressure from A.T.F. agents half their age to deliver the evidence needed to convict Rich's illegal weapons business. Adding to the film's realism: Rich's arms supplier and love interest is blonde twentysomething Gabriella (AnnaLynne McCord).

That Jackson would even want to take screenplay credit on a project that feels so off-the-cuff and uninspired is curious. Even the most obviously obtainable goal -- to create a criminal universe that is rich and believable -- isn't close to being achieved in the interactions depicted. True, I've had as few dealings with gun runners as anyone,
but even to me this lacks credibility. If the profane street talk and uncertain allegiances don't ring false to you, then the sight of the portly, reserved, long-haired 50-year-old Kilmer being accepted and embraced by these hardened, supposedly streetwise young thugs surely will.

With the right context, it's easy to understand how the two lead actors have gotten here. Jackson's movie career has stalled since his moderately-performing debut vehicle, 2005's Get Rich or Die Trying. Aside from a supporting role in the panned Robert De Niro/Al Pacino cop thriller Righteous Kill, his filmography has been short on notable acting work. As for Kilmer, his star stopped shining around the same time that George Clooney assumed Batman's suit from him. His ballooning weight has made him unfit for anything but peripheral roles in the action movies to which he has regularly been drawn. At the time of this writing, he is in the news for owing the IRS $500,000 in unpaid taxes. His latest star vehicle, The Traveler, goes straight to DVD at the end of January.

Having previously teamed up on 2009's direct-to-video Streets of Blood, Jackson and Kilmer seem determined to get through their creative woes together. Among their upcoming movies is the similar sounding crime drama Blood Out, which will reunite them with AnnaLynne McCord (of CW's "90210"), whose primary function in Gun is to provide a steamy, gratuitous (non-nude) sex scene with (a briefly nude) 50 Cent. Supposedly, Lionsgate will be releasing Blood Out to theaters in April. Gun didn't fare so well; shortly after debuting at last July's New York International Latino Film Festival, it was acquired by Image. Its only other cinematic exhibition came at a mid-December premiere in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the movie was filmed.

"Machete" star Danny Trejo provides a brief, rear cover-photographed cameo as suspicious customer Frankie Makina. As you might suspect, the front and center title placement proves intrusive on the DVD's main menu montage.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Gun appears in 2.35:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16:9 televisions. It looks pretty good, its dark, mildly stylized visuals not exhibiting any noticeable problems. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is far more bothersome, because it presents music and gunshots at volume levels far above those of dialogue. I found myself having to crank up the volume to make out the muttered chatter (which 50 Cent's modest enunciation does not aid) and then having to reach for the remote during the inevitable next set of frequent gun blasts. While this is obviously somewhat by design (I imagine automatic assault rifles are typically louder than criminal chats), it is extreme and jarring.
At least the disc benefits from the useful inclusion of English SDH and Spanish subtitles, offerings not always made on Image DVDs.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The DVD includes just a single bonus feature: a trailer for Gun (1:53), which is about as appropriate and welcome an inclusion as any item would have been.

The animated main menu plays color-drained clips from the film (many of them from the trailer) with the film's title partially covering them.

Over the disc's insert-free standard black Eco-Box keepcase, Image has included an almost perfectly redundant cardboard slipcover.

Making some sense of the title, Rich (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) wields one of the biggest guns you've ever seen in the film's climactic warehouse shootout.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Before making it musically, 50 Cent was famously shot nine times at close range. You would think that kind of experience would preclude him from writing, producing, and starring in Gun, a film that glamorizes violence without any creativity or reasoning. But it didn't and neither the world nor the rapper's Hollywood career is any better for it. At least Gun is short. Running a merciful and unheard of 78 minutes before end credits, it avoids being as tortuous as it might have been. Plus, its voids of taste, tact, and originality may very well go unnoticed and unlamented by the people who would seek out a 50 Cent movie or be swayed by its preposterous cover art.

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Gun Songs List:

Tony Yayo - "Bullets Whistle"
Lloyd Banks - "Beamer Benz or Bentley"
50 Cent - "Shut Up Bitch"
Kyeme Miller - "MGD4 2TK"
Seasalt Biscuits - "When We Touch"
Ben Zarai and David Allen Kitchens - "Bullet Strike",
50 Cent - "What Up Gangsta"
Kyeme Miller - "KL11"
Lloyd Banks - "Officer Down"
Kyeme Miller - "KL26"
Kyeme Miller - "Muddy Casualties"
50 Cent, Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo - "I'll Be the Shooter"
50 Cent, Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo - "I'll Be the Shooter (Edited Version)"

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Reviewed January 2, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Cheetah Vision Films, Hannibal Pictures, Emmett/Furla Films, and Image Entertainment.
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