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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Coburn's last film
on February 15, 2004
American Gun is an independent film that was adapted in part from a book that was written about the travels of a gun. I was able to see this movie in the theatre and writer director Alan Jacobs was there to later answer some questions about the film. Jacobs was interested in telling the story of a family that was faced with tragedy, and over this story he also brings in what he thinks is a balanced debate about guns. Though he fails in this, and at times too much effort is put into the gun debate side of the movie, the movie is still a great story.
The story is fairly fresh; a WWII veteran (played by the then 72 year old Coburn) who has had a relatively successful life loses his daughter to a gun. He goes on a long sabbatical in which he traces the history on the gun that killed his daughter. Positive and negative aspects are explored. A poor inner city student shoots his friend then commits suicide with the gun. A young woman who was kidnapped and put in the back of a trunk uses the gun to save her life. As Coburn is investigating the history of the gun, he is writing letters to his deceased daughter in an effort to cope with the pain. All this is set to flashbacks from his war experience where he first learned to kill a man with a gun.
There are several subplots that are put into the movie; the story of Coburn is coupled with the rebellion of his only granddaughter and the ongoing tale of the gun that killed his daughter. Though it at times is a little messy, Jacobs brings the entire movie together at the end very nicely.
The best part of the movie is Coburn. At the age of 72, he successfully portrays a man that is in pain but who is still tough as nails. In one scene Coburn confronts a man much younger than him and his presence intimidated me. If anything else, this film is worthwhile for this fact alone.
In total, this film is entertaining and thought provoking. Though the general conclusion of Jacobs is that guns are lose-lose, the film doesn't suffer because of this fact. As a member of the NRA and firm gun rights advocate, I thought I was going to be annoyed at this film. I wasn't. The end has Coburn not fighting against guns, nor advocating confiscation, but merely moving on with his life and family.