Italy 1978: American journalist David Raybourne (Andrew McCarthy) moves to Italy with the intention of writing a political thriller about the Red Brigade, a group of left-wing radicals who were terrorizing Italy at the time. Photojournalist Alison King (Sharon Stone), who also wants to produce a book on the Red Brigade, albeit a non-fiction one, accidentally mistakes Raybourne's novel for a work of fact and ultimately causes the Red Brigade to believe that their deepest secrets are about to be exposed, leading to Raybourne and King being forced to flee for their lives.
"The Year of the Gun" is a reasonably entertaining political thriller/action film that is hampered by its desire to integrate historical facts into its storyline. Being neither Italian nor alive in the 1970's, I was unfamiliar with the historical background to "The Year of the Gun" prior to sitting down to watch it. This made the first half hour or so of this film a little bit difficult for me to follow, but once I started to catch on to what was going on, I quite enjoyed this film and found myself comparing it favourably to other political thrillers that I had seen, such as "The Manchurian Candidate", which was also directed by John Frankenheimer, the director of this film. Unfortunately, in the end, "The Year of the Gun" is no "Manchurian Candidate".
"The Year of the Gun" falls down by wanting to include the kidnapping of president Aldo Moro into its plot. It is a historical fact that Aldo Moro was kidnapped and ultimately murdered by the Red Brigade, something which the writers of this film couldn't change. Although a kidnapping makes for exciting viewing, the facts rule out Moro being saved by our heroes, making for a rather disappointing ending to this film. Another drawback is that throughout this film there are numerous scenes where characters converse in Italian with no subtitles, with these scenes becoming longer and more frequent as the film progresses. I can assure you that even two minutes of hearing people speak in a language that you can't understand is enough to make you lose interest in what you are watching. This is a well made film and everyone involved in it seems to be trying very hard to make it work (and both Stone and McCarthy turn in good performances), but in the end, the short comings make this a film that I will probably never revisit, rather than a classic like "The Manchurian Candidate".