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Sean Penn is poised for action in The Gunman. The actioner finds Penn in the hands of director Pierre Morel (Taken) as a former military contractor and solder who just wants to retire happily, only to learn that shadowy forces just won't let him go. And now you know exactly when you can get to see Sean Penn wreck some fools on the big screen.
Open Road has announced March 20th, 2015 to be the release date for The Gunman, putting it in the same early year period that made Taken a hit. The movie is based on the book The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, with a script from Pete Travis (Dredd) and Don MacPherson (1998's The Avengers). Co-starring in the film are Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Jasmine Trinca and Mark Rylance. Somehow, Luc Besson is not involved with this.
This release date pits the film directly against Jane Got A Gun, which is unfortunate since that one sounded good, if troubled, and it sounds like both pursue a similar demographic. It's a pretty hefty February: this will be one week after Fifty Shades Of Grey, Spongebob Squarepants 2, and the planned Poltergeist remake. One week later, audiences will get to see Will Smith in Focus and Ryan Reynolds in Selfless. This is actually a pretty tight spot, and Open Road is banking on action fans not having their fill of red meat shootout-and-chase scenes from Run All Night with Liam Neeson, which opens two weeks before The Gunman.
As for the movie itself, it certainly seems like a pleasurable Euro-actioner, even if it's also Sean Penn lifting some weights and going out to get him a Taken. Elba, Bardem and Winstone are sort of an unbeatable supporting cast, however, and it wasn't long ago when Taken made Morel the most in-demand name in Hollywood action. He was involved in an ill-fated Dune adaptation, which could be what waylaid him. He also dabbled in negotiations for that atrocious-sounding Ouija movie which also didn't see the light of day. The truth is, sometimes you need to stop saying no, regardless of the project. Maybe The Gunman will be a roaring action class, a film that sings on the page and reverses the trajectory of Penn's cooling leading man career.
Or maybe Morel got sick of saying no and realized that by utilizing a Taken-type formula again, he can't necessarily go wrong. It would be nice if we believed in everything we do from a creative standpoint, but sometimes we all just have to work. Hopefully, that work involves actors like Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Javier Bardem and Ray Winstone, as well as tons of guns, some running, some shooting, maybe a little cursing. Being in Hollywood is fun, but its not without its obligations.