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★★☆☆☆ With The Gunman (2015), Sean Penn becomes the latest inductee into that club slowly being filled by older gentlemen with a particular set of skills. Pierre Morel was a key figure in the meteoric rise of the 'geriaction' genre with his explosive Taken (2008), not only launching Liam Neeson's own brand of ass-kicking but transforming the subgenre from camp silliness to exploitation gold. It's now seven years later and a raft of imitators have tried their hands with varying success, while the Taken series has itself suffered from diminishing returns. If this latest staid entry into the canon is anything to go by, few lessons have been learned in recent times. »
- CineVue UK
Liam Neeson's latest action flick, Run All Night, may have struggled at the box office, but earlier this year, Taken 3 proved that he still has pulling power. Never mind the fact that Taken 3 is a film best forgotten about. Quickly.
Neeson has now added another action film to his slate though, a submarine flick by the name of Narco Sub. This was a film that the late Tony Scott was once going to direct (Ridley Scott is one of the producers, alongside Simon Kinberg), and it's also a project that both Doug Liman and Antoine Fuqua came close to making.
The casualties this winter were staggering. Will Smith (Focus), Channing Tatum (Jupiter Ascending), Chris Hemsworth (Blackhat) and Sean Penn (The Gunman) crashed and burned in flashy vehicles designed to trade on their star power. Even Liam Neeson, so reliable in the Taken franchise, stumbled with the knockoff Run All Night. At the same time, February’s Fifty Shades of Grey and its $560 million gross minted two new stars in Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. Or did it? Such is the tricky nature of star power these days: Actors toplining a movie that grosses hundreds of millions aren’t necessarily worth much
- THR Staff
After making his mark on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Brian Kirk has taken the reins on 20th Century Fox’s long-gestating thriller Narco Sub, which is eyeing action star Liam Neeson to take on the lead role.
The title will center on “a notorious Ecuadorian drug lord who forces a disgraced American naval officer to navigate a cocaine-packed submarine past the U.S. Coast Guard,” TheWrap reports.
Though Kirk has already signed on, Neeson is by no means a done deal, sources report. Producers Ridley Scott and Simon Kinberg, who have been with the David Guggenheim-scripted project since its early days, both agree that Neeson is the man for the job, and now they’re moving to lock him in. The project may have to move fast to catch him, however. The veteran actor, whose Oscar-nominated performance in Schindler’s List seemed to guarantee him a long career »
- Isaac Feldberg
After joining the Navy in Peter Berg's action adaptation of the board game Battleship, it looks like Liam Neeson is getting back in uniform again (kind of). The Wrap reports the Taken and Run All Night star is being eye to lead Narco Sub, a drug-trafficking thriller that was once going to be directed by the late Tony Scott before his tragic death in 2012. Since then, filmmakers like Doug Liman and Antoine Fuqua have flirted with the project, but none of them have stuck with it. And now it will be "Game of Thrones" helmer Brian Kirk directing the film for 20th Century Fox and producers Ridley Scott and Simon Kinberg. The story follows a notorious Ecuadorian drug lord who forces a disgraced American naval officer to navigate a cocaine-packed submarine past the U.S. Coast Guard. the title refers to the custom-made ocean-going self-propelled submersible vessel built by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs, »
- Ethan Anderton
The Flickering Myth Podcast grabs some guns…
On today’s episode of the Flickering Myth Podcast, Luke Owen, Scott Davis and Rohan Morbey sit down to give their thoughts on Sean Penn’s attempt at “doing a Liam Neeson” with The Gunman, from the director of Taken. The trilogy also discuss the idea of having older action stars and whether this fad is over before its started in the wake of The Gunman bombing at the box office.
You can subscribe to the Flickering Myth Podcast via iTunes, update your RSS feed or listen via Sitcher or using the player below…
And don’t forget to check out past episodes via the Flickering Myth Pocast website or use the player below:
- Luke Owen
With Young Adult fiction making good bank at the box office, it should be no surprise that the dystopian Divergent movies are moving along well with a first-place finish for The Divergent Series: Insurgent and an estimated $54 million to start the weekend right, even if critics are lambasting it. It is not getting as much flak as The Gunman; debuting in fourth with an estimated $5 million, the Sean Penn led action film may be brought to the theaters by the makers of Taken, but it is doing nowhere near the business of the Liam Neeson franchise, and its lack of reported budget is very telling.
Cinderella may not be first this time around, but a second-place estimate of $34.5 million is not looking shabby for the Kenneth Branagh-directed fairy tale, doing good box office here and abroad. Run All Night, on the other hand, with a second weekend estimate of $5.1 million, »
- Seth Paul
It's hard to feel sorry for Sean Penn, but after "The Gunman," which he starred in and produced, got whacked this weekend by "The Divergent Series: Insurgent," maybe a little sympathy is in order. Then again, maybe he's just one more aging male movie star this winter -- after Will Smith, Vince Vaughn, and Liam Neeson -- who's run up against the hard fact that girls and young women are the driving forces behind the box office so far in 2015.
"Insurgent's" success should have been a surprise to no one. It opened with an estimated $54.0 million, only about $600,000 less than the original "Divergent" opened with on this same weekend a year ago. Since the first film, "Insurgent" stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Miles Teller have become bigger draws. Plus, the new movie has a 3D ticket surcharge that the first one didn't. Even if it didn't reach the »
- Gary Susman
Ever since the release of Taken in 2009, it seems that older actors are trying to jump on board the action train. Sean Penn’s The Gunman is the next stop, but his first attempt has not been overly successful.
Opening to very middling reviews (the film currently holds 14% on Rotten Tomatoes and 39 on Metacritic), The Gunman has opened to just $5 million domestically with no word yet on how it did internationally. The reported budget for the film is $40 million, so this is undoubtedly unfortunate news for the various production companies who financed the movie.
See Also: Movie Review – The Gunman (2015)
This puts The Gunman on par with other 2015 box office flops Mortdecai, Blackhat, Unfinished Business and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and is a fraction of what 3 Days to Kill made last year on its opening weekend – perhaps showing that the popularity of this subgenre has started to fall already. »
- Luke Owen
"The Divergent Series: Insurgent" took first place at the domestic box office this weekend with slightly under $54 million, which is almost exactly what the first installment grossed during its opening weekend a year ago. Internationally, "Insurgent" took in another $47 million for a worldwide debut of $101 million. The new movie cost $110 million to make, which means that it will easily become profitable. "Insurgent" has a 32% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes. Meanwhile, Sean Penn attempted to replicate Liam Neeson's success in the action genre with "The Gunman," which is directed by Pierre Morel (Taken). Unfortunately the film flopped, grossing only $5 million, which was only good enough for fourth place. It is the lowest opening for a Penn movie (in more than 2,000 theaters) ever. It also has a terrible 14% fresh rating. »
Robert Schwentke’s The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the second entry in the Divergent franchise adaptation of Veronica Roth’s novels, took home $54 million to rise to the top of the box office on its opening weekend. The opening roughly matches the first weekend total of the film’s prequel, which bowed with $54.6 million. Last week’s box office champion Cinderella saw a drop of nearly 50 percent to end up with $34.5 million over the weekend, landing it in second place, while Jaume Collet-Serra’s newest feature Run All Night saw a similar drop in revenue from last weekend to round out the top three.
Taken director Pierre Morel’s newest action feature The Gunman also made its debut by landing in the top ten, as the Sean Penn-starring film’s $5 million total landed it in fourth place. The other opening weekend film to land in the top ten was Do You Believe? »
- Deepayan Sengupta
The Divergent Series: Insurgent opened north of $50 million this weekend, which was easily enough to take first place away from Cinderella.The other new openers weren't so hot: The Gunman bombed with $5 million, while Do You Believe? opened to a fraction of God's Not Dead's debut.Insurgent opened to $52.3 million, which is off slightly from its predecessor's $54.6 million on this same weekend last year. While it would have been unreasonable to expect a Twilight type bump from the first to second installment, it did feel like this franchise had some room to grow. Unfortunately, it looks like Divergent will wind up like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, two young-adult franchises where there just wasn't a ton of domestic gains after the first outing (yes, the final Harry Potter set a high mark for the franchise, but that was a decade later with the addition of 3D pricing).Insurgent's audience was 60 percent female, »
- Ray Subers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Earlier this month, before Run All Night opened at the box office, Liam Neeson said he'll retire as an action star in two years. Don't be surprised if it happens sooner. Some six years after Taken stormed the box office and put Neeson, 62, on a new career course, audiences appear to be growing weary of the proverbial aging actor playing a gun-wielding, bad-ass. The malaise set in just as a string of Taken knockoffs rolled out at the box office to dismal results, including The Gunman, starring Sean Penn, and Neeson's Run All Night, which has earned
- Pamela McClintock
"The Divergent Series: Insurgent" (Lionsgate) scored an easy top position yesterday to dominate the Top Ten with $21.3 million haul (including Thursday preview shows). Though a strong number, it lagged slightly behind the $22.8 million "Divergent" took in exactly one year ago. This differs from the trajectory seen with both the "Twilight" and "Hunger Games" series, where the second entry's initial Friday improved on the opening day take. This is also a bit more disappointing since lead actress Shailene Woodley had a second smash hit "The Fault in Our Stars" last summer to increase her draw. Whatever slight shortfall "Insurgent" showed though is minor compared to the total failure of "The Gunman" (Open Road), a mostly European action production from Pierre Morel, the director of "Taken," with Sean Penn attempting to leap into Harrison Ford/Liam Neeson territory. It managed less than $1.8 million, still »
- Tom Brueggemann
If the subtle joke behind the Taken movies was that they revealed gentle, soft-spoken Liam Neeson to be a ruthlessly efficient killer, the joke behind The Gunman is a bit simpler: Over the years, nobody has seemed more pissed off at the world than Sean Penn, so now here’s his chance to kill everybody. But the film does bring an added nuance to this most recent iteration of the middle-aged-male-star-goes-on-a-bloody-rampage genre. It returns to the forefront the moral question the Taken movies so easily brushed aside: What, exactly, does a “man with a particular set of skills” do, and whom does he do it for? Neeson’s character in those earlier films was the perfect Killer Dad for a post-9/11 world, an American badass who went ballistic when his family was threatened, and who, we assumed, had killed with similar righteousness in his earlier, professional life. Hearkening back to an earlier, »
- Bilge Ebiri
Remember when action movies starred young and enthusiastic Hollywood stars? You'd be forgiven for not being able to remember the last time you went to a cinema and the latest thriller didn't star Liam Neeson. Nowadays action movies are a place for aging stars to try and revitalise a flagging career and try to show off a flair for kicking ass. The latest such star is Sean Penn in The Gunman, a vaguely political thriller from Pierre Morel, director of the movie that started this geri-actioner craze, Taken. I say vaguely political, because as far as story goes, The Gunman is to politics as The Transporter was to the automobile industry. Penn plays Jim Terrier, a grizzled ex special forces working security for a mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also moonlights as an assassin, and takes on a shadowy job that sees him forced to flee the country, »
- email@example.com (Dave Higgins)
Chicago – There were basically two careers for Pierre Morel, before he directed the mega-hit “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, and afterward. The French-born cinematographer, camera operator and now director is releasing “The Gunman,” an action film that stars Sean Penn. Like “Taken,” the motivations for the action are based in the real world, and “The Gunman” travels to Africa, London and Barcelona on his way to redeeming his soul.
Morel has had an adventurous career, in both European cinema and in notable films, beginning with his days as a camera operator on “The Truth about Charlie” (2002), “The Dreamers” (2003) and “Before Sunset” (2004). He was the cinematographer on “The Transporter” (2002) and Director of Photography on “Love and Other Disasters” (2006). His breakthrough came in 2008, when he directed “Taken.” The film resonated with audiences, and allowed his career to move into a new direction.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Shailene Woodley fights back against the Faction system in this weekend’s The Divergent Series: Insurgent. When we last left them, Tris Prior (Woodley) and her rebel boyfriend Four (Theo James) had broken free of Erudite’s tyrannical rule, as led by Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
For those not into the Ya scene, maybe The Gunman will be more your bag. While Liam Neeson is off becoming a target for the mob in Run All Night, his frequent collaborator Pierre Morel, the director of Taken, has buddied up with Sean Penn for this weekend’s The Gunman.
- Cineplex Entertainment
When Taken was released in 2008, it looked at first glance like a modestly budgeted, cleverly high concept, essentially throwaway thriller. The most noteworthy thing about it was its surprising star: Liam Neeson, he of the brooding mien, baritone brogue, and impressively varied acting résumé. Neeson was not a stranger to popcorn movies — he’d appeared in the Star Wars prequels and Batman Begins — but the former Oskar Schindler hardly seemed like anyone’s obvious heir to Schwarzenegger, Stallone, or Van Damme. Taken, however, was a huge, surprise hit, grossing roughly $150 million domestically, and soon, just like Die Hard before it, Taken had launched an action subgenre all its own. So what makes a Taken clone? In these films, an aging male superstar plays a world-weary former covert operative with a particular set of skills who’s pushed back into his former life by a child/spouse/dog being threatened/abducted/killed, »
- Adam Sternbergh
The past few years has seen a resurgence of action films revolving around a past-his-prime yet-still-bad-ass dude setting things right. This was probably first set in motion by Sylvester Stallone and his grizzled action star filled "The Expendables" films, and has been handily retrofitted to varying degrees of success for actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger ("The Last Stand," "Sabotage"), Liam Neeson ("Taken," "Unknown," "Run All Night," "Non-Stop") and Kevin Costner ("3 Days to Kill"). One of the more unlikely participants in this prune juice-fueled movement is Sean Penn via the "The Gunman." It shares a lot with those other films —a graying, righteous loner making the hard decisions no one else can or will, an improbably high body count, a soundtrack that bleeps along like the inner workings of a computer, a beautiful woman caught in the middle— but is also saddled by Penn's self-conscious »
- Drew Taylor
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