Sean Penn goes for a middle-aged reinvention as a badass action hero in The Gunman, due in theaters on March 20th. Penn plays Jim Terrier, a Special Forces operative who triggers an international crisis after he assassinates a political leader as part of a secret mission.
Terrier has to go on the run from his former colleagues (Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and Idris Elba) and exacts revenge when one of them kidnaps his girlfriend (Jasmine Trinca).
If this approach seems familiar, there's a reason: Pierre Morel, who launched Liam Neeson's career as an action hero in Taken (still the best Liam With a Gun flick), handles the direction here. He also made From Paris With Love (by far the best John Travolta movie of the 21st century and directed the pilot episode of The Night Shift, NBC's drama about military doctors back on the home front.
Penn's getting back in the game. Aside from small roles in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Gangster Squad, he's devoted most of his time the last few years to his J/P Haitian Relief Organization, a group set up to help the nation recover from the 2010 earthquake that devastated the nation.
Back in 2005, Penn took an initial step towards a career in action thrillers in director Sydney Pollack's The Interpreter, one of those brainy '70s-style conspiracy movies. The Gunman amps up the bullets, explosions and bare-knuckled punches and Penn looks ready to embrace the new direction.