It seemed surprising that Sean Penn – a man usually found in straight dramas – would want to turn into a Liam Neeson-style action hero. But although he is indeed picking up weapons for The Gunman, it’s definitely not a brain-free action piece. It has levels, apparently. And now it has a first picture of Penn in the role too, courtesy of USA Today.
Penn opened up to the paper to further dilute the idea that he’s simply going to be running around blasting people. "Calling it an 'action film' is kind of like calling Meryl Streep a sexy blonde chick. She is. But that really doesn't tell the story of what she is at all," he says.
"I don't separate this in my mind from anything else I have done. It's a very human story that deals with the same things exploited in action films, like warfare."
The film itself is based on Jean-Patrick Manchette’s novel, which finds Penn playing Jim Terrier, a former special forces fighter turned soldier for hire who works for a non-government organisation in the Congo. Suffice to say, given the pic, his past catches up to him.
With Pierre Morel directing, the film also features an impressive supporting cast that includes Idris Elba, Mark Rylance, Ray Winston and Javier Bardem. There’s no word on a release date yet.