SEAN PENN stars in an action film. Whoah. What?! I know. Penn is one of our greatest actors. He just doesn’t do action… Until now.The focus in THE GUNMAN appears to be on character. Thankfully.

S E A N    P E N N

It must be a rather compelling screenplay to attract this many OSCAR Nominated actors. Before I delve into that, here’s another tasty tidbit. GUNMAN is directed by the man who brought us the first TAKEN with Liam NEESON (turning him into an action-star in the process). I can’t wait to see a good grown-up action flick like this one (read: not THE EXPENDABLES). They are definitely few and far between.


From the trailer, it may seem like your traditional fair. Good guy kicks butt, the end. However, even a simple premise like a kidnapped daughter worked with TAKEN. It was the characters and the execution… um, pun intended. With the right blend of writer, director, and actors a simple premise can be a huge blessing. Take a simple kidnapping, and embellish it through characters and their back-stories.

kidnapping… phone calls… it’s got to be the TAKEN director

In THE GUNMAN, it looks like Penn used to be a sniper (the gunman, right) for some elite team taking out political targets or something.  They “did some bad things”, as he says. He kept a diary. Some “bad guys” are out to get it. Penn is told, “You’re always worried.” Yeah. Except when it’s just enough.

Looks like his adventures will take him to Brazil and Spain, so this will be a good old fashioned espionage film – kind of like TAKEN meets the new vision of 007. I hope the political elements are handled well, with important commentary rather than overly confusing bureaucracy.

the last action hero

Sean PENN is looking pretty ripped here, I have to say. I don’t remember him being that physical of a presence on screen before. Normally, he’s the laid back type with some inner turmoil. You get the sense that he’ll snap if you push him too far. Let’s say… He’s not the one with whom to f**k.

J A V I E R    B A R D E M

Penn’s two big co-stars here are AWARD nominated JAVIER BARDEM and IDRIS ELBA. For me, I remember Bardem from the 90s in Spanish ALMODOVAR films with Penelope CRUZ – even though I remember them more for another reason. I suppose most people will remember him as that strange WikiLeaks villain from BOND, or his toss-a-coin baddie from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

It looks like Bardem is the baddie here. He and Penn were former soldiers together. Penn recorded their activities. Maybe in another form other than the diary mentioned? He threatens to tell the world what they did. So… Bardem kidnaps his wife and threatens him. I don’t think Penn’s going to go down without a fight.

I D R I S    E L B A

Elba gained a lot of notice from the UK series LUTHER. He’s another stoic sort of hero. He appears all cool and calm, but you don’t want to see his bad side. I know him from (the best show ever) THE WIRE, where he played a GODFATHER sort of gangster named Stringer Bell. He’s received a lot more attention lately for his roles as MANDELA and in the THOR movies. From what I’ve seen of him, I say ELBA for BOND… yeah, James Bond.

With all this talent on board, you know the characters must be fully developed. It’s the execution, right. I’m excited to see an adult thriller with good action.

lock N load

It reminds me of a script I wrote which I envisioned for a Sean Penn or Liam Neeson type – a male lead in their 50s – in a character focused action film. Maybe I’ll post that over on my screenplay site THE LAST FOUNTAIN. It’s a thriller centered on a mystery somehow involving the events of 9/11 called VOW TO KILL. Cough, shameless plug. 😉

So what did you think about THE GUNMAN? I kind of hope it’s even a bit more cerebral like George Clooney’s underrated THE AMERICAN by Anton Corbjin. Don’t let that hidden gem SLIP THROUGH the cracks.

Are you already in line for this one? Or did nothing grab your attention yet?

Are you looking forward to dramatic actors in their 50s tackling the thriller genre? Or should this be a young man’s game like in the 80s?

where have all the action heroes gone? instead, it’s up to older guys like PENN and NEESON and (still) SCHWARZENEGGER…

I actually appreciate the divide we have now in Hollywood. Big summer special FX movies star the younger actors, while the good action films (with character and story) are reserved for the older generation. What do you think? Are we on the same page?

early Bardem

Javier BARDEM may seem like a bland choice from this particular trailer, but I assure you the man has immense talent. Check out some of his past work. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’m a big fan of the (artsy) Spanish films by PEDRO ALMODOVAR (and starring PENLOPE CRUZ). I encourage yo1u to start there.

Cruz & Bardem in JAMON JAMON (1992)

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