Starring: James Coburn as Martin Tillman Virginia Madsen as Penny Tillman Barbara Bain as Anne Tillman Alexandra Holden as Mia Ryan Locke as Young Martin Jason Winther as Mike Niesha Trout as Young Anne Walter Jones as J.B. Anthony Harrell as Kyle Andrea C. Pearson as Jewel Toby Smith as Valerie Paula O’Hara as Jasmine Jesse Pennington as Pastor Alex Feldman as McNee
Special Features: “James Coburn: Bang The Gong” as seen on Biography on the A&E Television Networks
Other Info: Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Spanish Subtitles Running Time: 90 Minutes
Synopsis: After Martin Tillman’s daughter Penny is tragically killed by a handgun, he starts tracing the past ownership of the gun in order to find the last owner. Along the way Martin reminisces about his past. He reflects on his days in the Army, meeting his wife, and raising his daughter. Martin must also find his runaway granddaughter Mia and tell her about the death of her mother. Martin’s search ends with an interesting, unpredictable twist.
American Gun is rated R for violence and language.
The Movie: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with American Gun. I was expecting a preachy, depressing film talking about the evils of handguns. While it is definitely a downer of a movie, it isn’t preachy. It shows both sides of the gun debate. It shows the gun being used for both defense and evil. While it definitely ends on one side of the debate, it’s a logical satisfying end. However, more impressive is the engaging plot that features a surprising twist by the end. There are all sorts of misdirection seen throughout the movie and it throws you off just enough to make the ending unpredictable. I thought it was a pretty good drama.
American Gun is James Coburn’s last film before his death in 2002. It is a fine, emotional performance and probably one of the best of his career. Martin Tillman is a tortured soul trying to set his life right. His character is further fleshed out through a series of flashbacks showing his history. We’re revealed a little bit at a time that finally helps you to figure out his character as well as those around him. The rest of the cast is pretty good, but none of them particularly stand out.
I liked the idea in the story of tracing the history of the gun. As Martin finds all of the previous owners, we hear all of their unique stories. This allows for all sorts of different departures from the main plot that show the different ways the handgun is used. It is used to save one woman’s life, to commit murder, and commit suicide. It definitely ends up being very thought provoking.
Overall, American Gun is a movie that many in mainstream audiences probably missed and one that is worth checking out.
The Extras: “James Coburn: Bang The Gong” This is the one and only extra included on this DVD. Seeing as how American Gun was James Coburn’s last film, it seems appropriate to have his biography here. This 43 minute featurette discusses his early years, his early career, and his career highlights. You hear about his shaving commercials, Our Man Flint, The Magnificent Seven, and more. It has all sorts of rare theatrical trailers, vintage interviews with Coburn, and interviews with his family, friends, and co-workers. There’s also film footage of Bruce Lee training Coburn in martial arts and collaborating on movies. If you’re a James Coburn fan, this is a video well worth watching.
The Bottom Line: A surprising, though depressing drama that will throw a twist at you by the end. It’s well worth checking out.