Pierre Morel, the director responsible for the “Taken” franchise, which skyrocketed Liam Neeson into the action-hero stratosphere, has paired with Sean Penn in “The Gunman.” Backed by a mostly wasted cast that includes Javier Bardem and Ray Winstone, Penn plays a reformed ex-special forces military operative and international hit man attempting to shake off a squad of assassins who, eight years after some nasty doings in Congo, are heatedly pursuing him. Penn’s character is named Jim Terrier, which should give you some idea of this film’s subtlety quotient.
I doubt “The Gunman” will do much to advance Penn’s foray into action-hero bankability, and that’s probably a good thing. He’s too fine an actor to be mired in nonstop shootouts while flashing his pecs and looking scowly. Grade: C (Rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexuality.)