Taken director Pierre Morel and Oscar-winner Sean Penn teamed up for The Gunman, an upcoming R-Rated action/thriller that - judging by preview footage such as that in the new TV spot (see above) - is more in the vein of Morel's trend-setting collaboration with Neeson on the first Taken installment, rather than its subpar sequels (which featured Olivier Megaton, not Morel, as the helmsman).
Gunman's polished appearance and visual design was provided in part by cinematographer Flavio Matinez Labiano; who, as it were, also served as director of photography on two "Liam Neeson with a Gun" installments, Unknown and Non-Stop. Meanwhile, the editing was handled by Taken editor Frédéric Thoraval; and again, the level of craftsmanship here is a sight for sore eyes, following the slapdash editing seen in recent, similar "Aging Actors in Badass Mode" thrillers (The November Man and, in particular, Taken 3).
The Gunman - based on the novel "The Prone Gunman" written by Jean-Patrick Manchette - tells the tale of Jim Terrier (Penn), an ex-Special Forces operative struggling with PTSD - and who just wants to settle down into a peaceful life with his longtime lover, Annie (Italian actress Jasmine Trinca). But, of course, leaving his past behind him is easier said than done for Jim, who finds himself being wrongly accused of a crime and forced to make his way across Europe in the hope of clearing his name.
Penn is credited for co-writing the Gunman screenplay alongside Don MacPherson (Fleming) and Dredd director Pete Travis - something that not only suggests this film might truly deserve to be called "gritty", but also indicates the narrative may have more depth (see: its timely examination of PTSD) than you might expect from this sort of genre fare. The premise may not seem innovative (from what's been revealed so far), but the talent on both sides of the camera points to Gunman turning out better than your average formulaic B-movie thriller.
And speaking of talent involved with The Gunman - the film's supporting cast is quite impressive on its own terms, counting such names as Oscar-winner Javier Bardem and Golden Globe-winner Idris Elba among its ranks, along with such lauded character actors as Ray Winstone (Noah) and award-winning theater actor Mark Rylance, who's also starring in Steven Spielberg's next two movies (his Untitled Cold War Drama and The BFG). Sounds good by us.
The Gunman opens in U.S. theaters on March 20th, 2015.