American Gun (2002) Poster

(2002)

User Reviews

Review this title
37 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Coburn's last hurrah gets two cheers
FilmFlaneur6 May 2003
American Gun is a suitably elegiac and death-obsessed film that closed the career of James Coburn. It's a sometimes worthy, but never less than interesting story, starting as one thing and ending as another. It begins as one man's search for truth, and finishes as the truth about a man. Along the way, director Alan Jacobs (whose previous credits have been romantic dramas and comedies) fashions an interesting narrative, using flashbacks and reconstruction in ways that are dramatically intriguing and never distracting.

Coburn plays Martin Tillman, whose daughter Penny (Virginia Masden) is killed in a shooting. Martin, an infantry veteran of the Second World War, experiences vivid memories of combat and his youth - notably his meeting and early romance with his wife Anne (Barbara Bain, a face familiar from re-runs of TV's original Mission: Impossible) as well as the traumatic killing of a young sniper who shot his friend. At the same time Martin seeks to re establish contact with Penny's estranged daughter (Alexandra Holden) who, after blaming her mother for her father's desertion, has disappeared.

Martin's grief over loss, and one-man odyssey to find the owner of the gun that killed his daughter is what lies at the centre of the film. Elderly, and with his knuckles visibly distorted by arthritis, Coburn still has an undeniable screen presence, raising the film out of the ordinary, and gives a quiet authority which adds necessary gravitas to his search. Despite being predicated around a violent act, American Gun is a relatively subdued film, making points about weapon ownership, responsibility and guilt in persistent ways that, understandably, caused some irritation amongst gun-owning filmgoers at home. It also had the bad luck to be made as a change of administration, and then the events of September 11th, marked a sea change in American attitudes to arms. It is doubtful that a film, which plays so much on the social question of weaponry, would be made today.

Besides some wintry settings, there is an excellent score, the work of the underrated Anthony Marinelli, which enhances much of the film's tone. Marinelli's spare note clusters, floating in dead air as it were, emphasise the silence and loss in lives touched by the gun. They suggest how much grief isolates the central character from all but the most essential relationships, where he can only really communicate by writing letters to a dead woman. The epistolary nature of many of Martin's scenes, as well as the distancing effect of his flashbacks, remove him further from daily life and place him further in his self-absorbed quest. ("He's on a crusade," despairs his wife at one point.) Martin's dedication to his search is also counter-pointed by a crisis in faith: "I still believe in God," he says during a glum meeting with a young pastor, "but I don't know what to make of him." Given the nature of Martin's grief, the churchman understandably finds it hard to offer more than passing support.

American Gun is apt title. It refers both to a weapon, as well as the name of the company manufacturing the offending item (Its factory of the same name is the first place Martin visits). Like something aimed and fired itself, Martin's single-minded journey transcribes its own trajectory, until it reaches its mark. Along the way we discover the gun's history: as an instrument of death in the hand of an abduction victim, a means of revenge for a jealous youth, and so on. The gun has taken more than one life and, the film suggests, is typical of such items passing through so many hands. Whether or not one takes this simplification at face value is down to the position held on gun control. Meanwhile the film benefits from an avoidance of hectoring, and a script that demonstrates the casual dissemination of small arms, as well as the numbing effects of their misuse.

Jacob's film recalls the similar premise explored in John Badham's The Gun (1974), an above average TV movie in which another firearm was followed from cradle to grave, although here the irony is of another sort. In Badham's film the piece is only fired once (at the end) for instance, while Jacob's weapon is used several times. American Gun also has a more complicated structure, the filmmakers using a combination of narrative and filmic methods to show the effects of gun violence on individuals. It is also has a clever twist in the tale, one which accords the hero greater tragic status as well as forcing us to reinterpret events. This ending, while the film still tends towards the episodic, reaffirms Martin's central role and allows the peculiarly penitential nature of his quest to be explained.

There's nothing about the film that wouldn't sit just as comfortably on the little screen as on the big, but it rarely drags and sustains interest. Those who seek the dynamism of most films explicitly associated with weaponry will be advised to look for thrills elsewhere. Those who'd enjoy a quiet, well made look at a perceived American blight, as well as those wanting a last glimpse of a memorable Hollywood star still at work, should check this out.
22 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Coburn is wonderful
zampino13 August 2002
`American Gun' offers several levels of reward to its audiences. First, is a Oscar caliber, powerfully moving performance from one of America's finest actors, James Coburn. It is rare in our system that an actor, even of James's stature, at his age is offered the opportunity to strut his stuff; and strut he does. With pain, wisdom, and gentleness expressed both in his face and in his gnarled hands, his performance is great. I guarantee no one will walk out of this film unchanged and unmoved by this alone. `American Gun' is a film about America and its scope is huge. On one level it deals with a subjects that are all but taboo in the mainstream media, i.e. American's contradictory infatuation with guns and violence and the all too real repercussions they have with our individual and collective lives. On another level it examines the ethical context of violence in religion, in warfare, in the streets, in the cause of justice as well as in the pursuit of evil. It sounds deep, but you will be entertained by this film, but you will also walk of the theater thinking about some fundamental issues. That's not bad is it?
22 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Memories
jotix1003 April 2005
"American Gun" directed by Alan Jacobs was a surprise. Not having heard about it before, intrigued me. Mr. Jacobs, directing from his own material, has created a movie that on on level is telling us we are going on one direction, but in reality, he is playing with us since the trip he is taking us is not what we had in mind.

If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you would like to stop reading.

Martin Tillman, the man at the center of the story, is a man that still remember his days during WWII; how can one ever forget those horrors lived in that, or any other, conflict? In flashbacks we get to know how young Martin and the lovely Anne, meet, fall in love and marry eventually. Their union seems to be a happy one. They have a daughter, Penny, a single mother, who returns home for the holidays after her own daughter, Mia, leaves her home.

Not all is happy among the Tillman family. Martin, who is in his seventies, appears to be a man not at peace with himself or the world. When Penny is mugged during a trip to the store to return Martin's Christmas gift for Anne. Penny meets an unexpected death, or does she? Mr. Jacobs is too devious to tell us the truth, thus contributing to the mystery surrounding Martin's resolve in finding the man who killed Penny.

Thus begins a series of trips into different areas of the country. All these trips end in failure. Martin keeps compiling data and we feel as though he is close to get his revenge. At this moment in the story, Mr. Jacobs intervene to show us in flashbacks the missing links of the gruesome murder. We realize then that Martin has not been interested in resolving the crime at all.

James Coburn made his last appearance on this film. He appears as though he is in great physical pain. As he proved in "Affliction", he was an actor to be reckoned with, although sometimes, his choice of projects was not exactly the best. Yet, he surprises us playing Martin Tillman. He obviously understood this troubled man and the price he is paying for his sins.

Virginia Madsen is seen briefly at the beginning of the story and in flashbacks. Ms. Madsen makes the best of the ill fated Penny. Barbara Bain plays the suffering wife, Anne. One wonders whatever went wrong in Anne's early love for Martin and the bitter person she turns out to be in her later years. The murder of Penny clearly contributes to alienate her from her husband. Ms. Bain short time on the screen makes an excellent contribution to the film.

Mr. Jacobs underlying message is about the American fascination with guns, but he is not judgmental on the issue, as some comments in this page seem to criticize him for doing. This is a serious movie dealing with an controversial subject.
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great ending (in every sense of the word)
JAMES COBURN bowed out like true star in AMERICAN GUN, a strange, yet rewarding cross between ON GOLDEN POND and THE LIMEY (with shades of THE CROSSING GUARD). And for once (oh well, maybe twice) COBURN does not come accross all smooth, cool and calm. He is very human, and is capable of making mistakes (one rather big one, it turns out!) and the director only gives you as many clues as he wants, so that when the events playback in sequence (and only in that order) does the viewer, fully understand the whole story. The final shot of COBURN, all bitter and twisted, yet slightly redeemed, is rather haunting COBURN asside, every performance in this movie is spot-on. The ever gorgeous VIRGINIA MADSEN especially effective, in the few scenes she's in. Once again, i cannot praise this fine movie, but it must be watched till the end (and in one sitting) to be truly appreciated. Oh well, JAMES COBURN, your 'star' will continue to shine on in heaven. But back here on earth, you shone also. You left the world, a better place than when you first found it.

10 out of 10
16 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
James Coburn at his finest!
shaggy9740117 September 2002
This is a wonderful film starring James Coburn in a heart wrenching tale of a fathers plight for discovery, truth, and bring closure to his daughter's murder. He embarks on a cross country quest to find her killer, discover himself and find his beloved granddaughter.

This film is masterfully done and highly recommended.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Well Worth Seeing
purpleaddict31 August 2003
I saw this film at the Sonoma Film Festival earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised. It was not what I was expecting.

James Coburn gave a tremendous performance and all the other actors were very good as well.

I was able to buy into what the film was selling, but I was not expecting the twist at the end. About ten minutes before the twist was revealed, I starting thinking this was the direction they were headed. I just sat there thinking "No, that can't be where they are taking this." It was difficult to see the ending and I felt disturbed by the movie for a while afterwards.

I recommended it to friends and think it is well worth seeing.
11 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
A very good movie with a message and a surprising twist
Gary-4977 April 2005
I saw this movie for the first time a few days ago. I have been a James Coburn fan since I was a kid so seeing his name in the starring role made me want to check it out although I had never heard of this movie before. Apparently, it was his last movie and I was really pleased to see him finish his career with such a good role. This movie has a great message without being preachy and the twist in the story caught me completely by surprise and I love that sort of thing. I was pleasantly surprised to see Barbara Bain (another favorite of mine) playing his wife. It took me a minute to recognize her. I just wanted to add my comments on this movie because of the other review I saw here that dismissed it as something not very good. I would hate to see someone pass up a chance to see James Coburn's last movie because of some misguided comments by someone who thinks they are a critic. This is an interesting and informative movie and is well worth viewing especially if you are or were a Coburn fan.
12 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
It's not about finding fault, it's about finding reason
sbrittan15 June 2003
At first I thought this film was going to be about finding a killer and blaming guns and the lack of laws we have in the United States controlling them. I was wrong. This is a story of relationships, and what it takes to keep them. The writing is sensitive, not safe by any means and gets to the heart of every human. I was touched by the candid view points of the characters and how the camera and direction noticed them. This is a strong story, not too simple and very complex but very real and grass rooted. The bottom line is...I can see this happening to anyone...anywhere and I was thrilled that it made me feel this way. I thought all the performances were believable and brilliantly acted. Even though Mr. Coburn isn't on this earth to receive one, he should be nominated for an Oscar.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Expecting little....I was enthralled
jjacobs492 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Channel-flipping, I stopped at "American Gun". Ready to change to another movie, I decided to give it 5-minutes. 15-minutes. All 95- minutes.

*** spoiler*** An elderly grandfather, haunted by a traumatic split-second decision made during WW2, goes on to be haunted by another traumatic split-second decision made in the present.

To me, movies don't have to be perfect. If they hold my attention, if they make me feel something, if they make me muse about what has been presented, I am happy.

See it.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I was blown away by this (forgive the pun)
nhpbob25 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film at the recent Hamptons International Film Festival, in a packed house on the extra day of screenings, when several films are shown for free as a thank-you to the community the day after the film festival officially ends. Everyone was riveted by the story, and I noticed the same thing from the paying customers earlier in the week. Many people walk out of the film somewhat shocked and quite moved.

This film is masterfully done, despite what another reviewer says here.

A strong performance from James Coburn, and equally good performances from Virginia Madsen (one of the most underrated actresses around since the 80s), Barbara Bain, Alexandra Holden, and Ryan Locke playing a younger version of Coburn. The parallel stories of his youth, and his current tragic life, are done well. Images of the past sit side by side with the present day.

As befits its title, this film spans America as James Coburn looks for the history of people who used the gun that recently killed his daughter. Like all good "road" movies, the journey here ends satisfyingly. The story has a damn good surprise for the audience in the last 15 minutes, and like other films that do that, it makes you mentally go back to what one saw as the film unfolded. In other words, I certainly want to see this a second time, and see it from the new perspective that sitting through it once brings you.

I'd talk more about what impressed me about the story, but that would be one big spoiler. Suffice to say that this film is best viewed fresh. If someone were smart, it would get a theatrical release. That way Coburn gets a well deserved Best Actor nomination?....
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Does anyone get this movie?
timrock1175217 August 2006
Not only is the movie disjointed but the time line does not work either. Coburn's character is a WWII veteran and the film shows him as a young man with his daughter on a swing. The latest that could have occurred is in the early 50's but in the movie he states that his daughter graduated high school in 1983. As well, there is no way he could have traced the gun through the numerous gun shows and street sellers. I still don't get the plot either. Did the mugger shoot his daughter in the parking lot or did he shoot her in his house? Is the house shooting a metaphor for how responsible he feels? If he is the one who shot her, why didn't the police investigate him? Not a good movie.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Contrived
George Parker24 February 2004
"American Gun" is all about an elderly man (Coburn) who goes in search of the owner of the handgun used to kill his daughter. A nominal film in most respects, "American Gun" uses a lame ploy to whet interest by excising important scenes from the front end of an ordinary linear story and then pasting them on the tail end so as to create mystery where none exists while providing a reward for sitting though the uneventful bulk of the film. The result is a disappointing par flick which has little more to offer than a modicum of entertainment and a last look at James Coburn. Reminiscent of "All the Rage". (C+)
5 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Clever and diverse film about important issues
Edgar L. Davis17 December 2003
James Coburn is an actor who has proven his worth by his

longivity. I have admired his work since I was a kid. My admiration

continues. He was awesome in Affliction and no less awesome in

American Gun. This story is very inventive in its telling. It utilizes the device of

flashback better than any film in recent memory. It has also,

through its multiple story line, enabled to include in its cast a

variety of minoroty actors and strong female roles. The issues that

are tackled are well examined. War, male rites of passage,

father/daughter, parent/child relationships, faith and forgiveness to

name a few. And it manages to not give away its ending. I highly

reccomend this film.
6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Amazing
federpet31 July 2003
By narrowing the focus to ONE victim, not guns in America or why do so many Americans kill each other with guns, Alan Jacobs creates a hypnotizing and heartbreaking film.

As James Coburn's character travels across the country tracking down previous owners of the gun that killed his daughter we meet people who have used, bought and sold it. The gun, gun owners, manufacturers are never made accountable for the actions of the shooter. The motive of this film is less to place guilt than it is to explore grief.

The performances are heart wrenching and the camera is unflinching. When I saw it at the Stony Brook Film Festival it's effect on the audience was profound. American Gun won the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature and if there is any justice it will win Academy Awards for Alan Jacobs, James Coburn and Barbara Bain.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Hit and run hit and miss
drystyx8 January 2013
This is a fairly animated drama about a man who researches the gun that killed his daughter, looking for answers through that path.

The movie is a lot of things. It certainly has style, I think one must admit. It continually goes off into new directions.

We get many flashbacks to the greatest generation years during World War II, where the father is a young man who is a very believable young soldier. He finds killing hard, and guns take getting used to.

There is a huge sense of realism in this story. Even though we don't have the specific experiences and backdrops that the father, played by James Coburn, experiences, we somehow feel them. We are drawn into the home and decor of this family, and adopted.

Thereis some smart directing, and some smart writing.

However, this is "hit and run, hit and miss". There are just as many fanciful stretches in this story, too, seemingly to make a point.

It isn't exactly "preachy", but the history of the gun does seem to have a Hollywood story to it. Never once does it just wound anyone. It manages to kill a number of people through different owners.

That part just didn't fit in with the "realism" feel of the story, and of the family.

As for the "hit and run" turning into "hit and miss", we feel like the writer is congratulating himself on keeping us off balance. It becomes less of a story we are in, and more of a story we know someone is telling. We lose the natural flow, because we are so conscious he is always trying to throw us for a loop.

However, I realize some people probably like that. I felt the writer did this too much to keep a natural look about the story.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Coburn Comes to Grip
wes-connors24 June 2012
Flashbacks to his childhood and World War II service show our narrator's strong bond with guns...

In the present, our elderly storyteller James Coburn (as Martin Tillman) lives in Vermont, with his beautiful wartime bride Barbara Bain (as Anne). Their snowy Christmas is brightened by a visit from daughter Virginia Madsen (as Penny). The family has overcome life's problems, and is a obviously a loving unit. During an immaculately prepared dinner, we learn details about the family's latest crisis - Mr. Coburn's granddaughter Alexandra Holden (as Mia) has run away from home. While daughter Madsen takes care of some Christmas shopping, Coburn secretly meets with young Holden. Or, so it seems… Writer/director Alan Jacobs tells a good story about a man coming to grip with tragedy; secondarily, we see the consequences of being quick on the trigger...

In hindsight, you can see the intent, but "American Gun" has some serious editing flaws. There is also one unforgivable "cheat" - during one of the film's shootings, a sound effect does not coincide with later events. The film tells the story of the "American Gun" responsible for the tragedy that befalls Coburn. He decides to trace ownership of the offending .357 Magnum, which he is able to obtain from the local police. Using the serial number, Coburn finds out how the gun was used across America. At the same time, Coburn looks for his granddaughter (who goes to the restroom without her purse). Most notably, this was the last feature film for Coburn (and, surprisingly, his real-life young wife Paula O'Hara, who play an attractive woman with car trouble).

***** American Gun (6/13/02) Alan Jacobs ~ James Coburn, Barbara Bain, Virginia Madsen, Alexandra Holden
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
saturday night (not so) special
Yaniv Eidelstein27 September 2002
some people on this messageboard seemed to enjoy this movie, though i can't imagine why.

it's hardly cinematic; it tells its story in a very heavy-handed fashion. i couldn't believe my eyes at the sight of the first scenes that had dialog; not only were the lines really corny, but throughout the scene, each of the two actors (james coburn and virginia madsen) got a close up while delivering his line! even for utterances as negligible as "okay"! i didn't think such disregard for storytelling technique is even possible anymore, but there it is.

the movie did get a little better as it went along, thankfully, and delivered various flashbacks detailing coburn's history (on film) and the gun's owners' (on video) to liven things up a little. but the movie doesn't know how to deliver any insight into american gun culture. coburn's voice-over is comprised of his embarassing letters to his dead daughter(!). finally, a surprise ending negates most of the movie and leaves you with close to nothing.

as for coburn's performance... you won't hear me say a bad word about him, but i just can't praise his performance in "american gun". i assume his oscar for "affliction" was well-deserved (i haven't seen the film), but i don't see any awards (or nominations) for this one.

the storytelling style can best be described as "naïve", and that's the kind of movie-goer you have to be to enjoy the movie.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
A provocative, visually stimulating, dramatization of guns and the tragedy they bring
bgustin5 August 2002
American Gun is an excellent film. I've never seen Coburn better than this. He won the Academy Award for Affliction but I believe that he betters himself in this film. The material is controversial and thought provoking, the story line is creative, and the ending a big surprise. All in all I would recommend this independent film to any adult audience. The film stays with you for days!
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2/10
James Coburn is fine ..... the rest not so much
merklekranz9 February 2017
Don't get me wrong. I like James Coburn. "Hard Times" is one of my favorites. Unfortunately Coburn's final film is not very good. First off it is shot mostly on video and looks cheap. Second, it is told in flashbacks which is not only confusing but makes for a very uneven viewing experience. Third and most important, the script does not play fair with the audience, in order for the "big reveal" twist ending. If Coburn had not been in this one, it would get a 1 rating from me for all of the above reasons. The whole thing becomes a "so what", because of the uneven script, endless flashbacks, and unfair ending. One to avoid, even for James Coburn fans. - MERK
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An average film that is frustrating for not being the film it could have been
bob the moo20 June 2005
When his daughter comes home for Christmas, Martin Tillman is happy to see her, even if Anne, his wife, is worried about the news that Penny's daughter has run away. Mia turns up at Martin's workplace – but only long enough to borrow money and head off again. Things get worse though when Penny is shot and killed during a robbery of some sort. When the police close the case, Martin feels he needs more closure and, petitioning the gun from the police, he takes the serial number and finds the original owner. Using this as his starting point he plans to trace the gun back to its last owner, but on his way he finds a trail of loss and sadness left in the wake of this fateful weapon.

Not even managing to get a release on video in the UK it is no surprise that this film ended up dropped into a poorly fitting daytime television slot on one of our lesser channels. I suppose at least it got a showing but the downside is that all the violence and language was cut from it – reducing the impact of some of the scenes and rendering the occasional one a little harder to follow that it should have been. The plot summary makes it sound like it will be a condemnation of America's gun culture – which is what I tuned in to see, so perhaps this is why I wasn't overly impressed by the rather clumsy (and often illogical) mystery that Martin heads off to solve. It allows him to follow the gun across America but the plot brushes over how he is able to do this. This is a problem that takes away from how well the mystery plays out but it does offer the potential for a real sad story to be told at the same time. Although it does have some episodes that portray death, the film never gets close to making political statement, preferring to stay with the mystery and the characters.

This is a loss I think and the impact of the material is minimised by this. The characters are still interesting enough though and produce a nice drama that is worth watching without being overly special – hence the daytime TV slot I suspect. Martin's emotions are occasionally engaging but even on this level it isn't all it could have been. Meanwhile, the mystery plot finds itself becoming more central to the film and thus is used to produce a twist that is at once shocking but also makes a lot of what went before pretty senseless – again the end was the time for comment and it failed to do it. The twist does undermine a lot of the film when you look back and when Martin talks of "the demons in his mind" it did frustrate me because I didn't think the film had done anything to show these to us.

The presence of a couple of names in the cast suggest that it was going to be more – maybe they thought that too. Coburn is a strong presence in the film and, although far from his best work, it at least shows the qualities in him that made him who he was. Madsen is good in her comparatively small role but both her and Holden have too simple characters. Bain is good and the support cast are OK but Coburn is the main reason for watching it, even more so because it was the last time we'll get the chance to.

Overall an average film but more notable for the missed opportunities it represents. There is no commentary, the mystery is only workable and the emotional development of the characters is shot (sorry) all to hell by the final twist that, although dramatic, really means that you have been watching a film that you know nothing about – and not in a good Usual Suspects way either. An OK watch but frustrating because of what it should have been.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Quite cliched, quite contrived, ultimately quite uninteresting
Jasper McCrea28 May 2004
James Coburn has always, for me, been a powerful actor. Here he seems weak, not just because of his obvious physical discomfort, but also because he seems very uncomfortable with the material. I don't mean generally anti-weapon material, I mean weak writing and direction. Coburn seems unsure of his acting, and some of the scenes come out looking like near enough's good enough. And it isn't good enough.

The story of the gun involved seems remarkably eventful, and the tracing of it over so many owners seems preposterous (with some great Deus ex Machina jumps). The flashbacks to WWII also seem contrived. None of it seems in any way realistic.

Perhaps it wasn't as bad as I've made out, but I just didn't warm to it at all. 5 out of 10.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
Inept 80's vintage TV melodrama, out of place in 2002
etnier8 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I couldn't finish this. Watching Coburn playing a Vermont millworker with his expensive pouffy hairdo and immaculate fresh-out-of-the-box work clothes was hard enough. He wasn't that great of an actor in the best of settings: this movie is too earnest and dullwitted to help him along. The scene where Virginia Masden dies was the breaking point: so badly handled I felt timewarped back to a 1980's made-for-TV special.

The film was mawkish and dumb from the git-go: a problem with a lot of 'independent' cinema that no one seems willing to face up to and tackle. If you liked this movie, check out "Lustre". You'll love it.

Just because a movie is set in Vermont and deals with moving issues doesn't make it any good. Sheesh.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Coburn's last is one of his best
jack-3598 June 2003
Instead of preaching about the dangers of hand gun ownership, American Gun is a wonderful film that encourages us to talk about the pros and cons of this issue. James Coburn (Martin Tillman)is perfectly cast as the WWII vet who i haunted by his past. His cross-country journey that traces a gun from its manufacturing plant to its current owner reveals a history that will certainly be interpreted on an individual basis. Barbara Bain (from the original Mission Impossible TV series)plays Martin's wife to perfection. Coburn's final film is one of his best and a shining example of why he was so special.
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
this still has potential!
rogerthurzomarsh17 April 2003
I rented this movie based on the tag line and because of Coburn. I thought it would be interesting to see a senior Coburn at work with what sounded like an interesting story... my mind was racing with all the possibilities.

The storyline is simple: a father's daughter is murdered. After the trial (actually there wasn't one... the case is simply closed with alarm bells starting ring in my head...) the police release the gun to the grieving parent after which he goes on the trail of the "American Gun", tracking its history to lead him to... somewhere, possibly a resolution, so he could find peace or, whatever. That's what you would think anyway.

Problems start with the relationship between the father and his wife. Choice words as you get no feeling of motherhood, daughterhood where relevant. You are introduced to these central characters through B/W flashback in a lame attempt to introduce the 'gun' as the central problem but instead we have delivered a confusing history that ultimately pulls the story in different directions. If the gun was presented as the 'problem', that would be fine but instead it is a human conflict presented: who pulls or pulled the trigger so to speak. We don't find that out until the end (get renting... the DVD is not widescreen) and that would appear to be the point of this movie but that, the conflict, is far from conclusive.

The story was a mess and without a point (but that did not make it entirely pointless). The characters didn't relate to each other both historically and in current circumstance. To this poor (re)viewer, he was left feeling cheated and cold by a poor script and very bland acting by all involved.

My final note: what was the fascination with Coburn's hands? Not that growing old or being old should not be a relevant visual, I just didn't see the need to dwell in this case. I guess the camera had to look somewhere!

The story still has potential. The problem is: it was not realized in this movie. So I could end saying that this was inspirational. But I won't.
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews