Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
March 25, 2015
Kim Hollis: The Gunman, Sean Penn's attempt to be an action star, earned just $5 million this weekend. What went wrong?
Ryan Kyle: Sean Penn poorly pretended to be Liam Neeson. And audiences are tired of Liam Neeson as shown by last week's sorry debut of Run All Night, so what really could have been expected? Open Road Films has had a pretty poor roster of films so far in terms of box office and this one didn't look to right the course. The $5 million debut is on par with the other major bombs from this year, but in this case, nobody expected much more than this to begin with. It's always exciting to see an actor out of their wheelhouse, but no one was really clamoring to see Sean Penn pick up a gun.
Edwin Davies: Sean Penn has rarely been a huge draw, and this looked like such a generic and blatant Taken rip-off, right down to that complete blank of a title, that no one was that excited even before the reviews started coming in. Once it became clear that the film was bad, any interest that people might have had vanished. If the last two weeks have taught us anything, not to mention the slew of these kind of films that have appeared since 2009, it's that the "aging actor makes an action movie" gimmick isn't strong enough on its own. The film needs a great hook, good reviews, or both to really break out. That's why John Wick became something of a sleeper hit, and The Gunman will be bundled with Chuck Norris movies within a few years.
Max Braden: This was less than half of Neeson's opening for Run All Night. It could be that these two recent old-guy action pics didn't hit because they weren't part of franchises like Taken, but we saw The Expendables 3 suffer similar lack of interest. On the other hand, The Equalizer opened to $34 million less than six months ago. I think a lot of the blame here has to land on the casting of Sean Penn. Firstly, this kind of action isn't his audience's typical genre. They typically want to see his dramatic skills, not his physical prowess. And secondly, is there any actor who looks less interested in being in a movie like this? I liked grumpy Timothy Dalton as James Bond, but grumpy old Sean Penn just isn't going to get me to go to the theater.
Bruce Willis may be able to get a larger audience to go see something like RED 3, but we may just have to wait for Tom Cruise to age another dozen years (if he's even capable of aging) to deliver a worthy old-man action movie. Or we can just go see the next Mission: Impossible movie, which looks great. (The kicker: Sean Penn is only two years older than Tom Cruise.)
Michael Lynderey: Sean Penn has historically never carried this kind of generic thriller (or generic anything, for that matter) - never really tried to. And the rare Sean Penn movie with reviews on this level and no discernible awards attention was never going to do very well (in fact, good critical notices are just about the only thing that could have sponsored a solid box office run for The Gunman). I don't know why people keep referring to Penn's and Neeson's ages, though, which to me seem totally irrelevant, especially because Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Bronson, John Wayne, and most of the rest were starring in action movies well into their 50s (and I don't even mean the recent comebacks of those first two actors; Stallone was 51 when he did Cop Land in 1997, and Schwarzenegger was 55 when T3 came out in 2003). Plus, who are all these young action stars they're competing with? I assume it's not the Hemsworth brothers.