Sean Penn to Star in Action Thriller 'Prone Gunman'

Sean Penn has played many roles in his life, from a gay politician in Milk to a lost soul in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, winning a pair of Oscars along the way. But now he's set to star in his own potential action movie franchise.

Penn is in negotiations for Prone Gunman, an action thriller being produced by Silver Pictures’ Joel Silver and Andrew Rona, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Based on a Jean-Patrick Manchette novel and a script by Peter Travis, the story centers on an international operative named Martin Terrier (Penn) who is betrayed by the organization he works for and must go on the run in a relentless game of cat-and-mouse across Europe.

Don’t assume that Penn is selling out just because he's going into the lucrative action genre. Manchette was a leftist French author, and his books -- in the French noir genre -- have been described as existentialist and involving explorations of politics as well as the human condition. (If the exploration was being done by a relentless killing machine.)   

The project is fully financed by StudioCanal and is on the hunt for a director.

Penn is the latest over-50 actor to take on an action pic. Liam Neeson (the Taken films), Bruce Willis (A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, RED 2) and his fellow Expendables crew have proved recently that age is no barrier to box-office success in the genre.

Silver Pictures is in production on Non-Stop, an action thriller that stars Neeson and also is being financed by StudioCanal.

Penn, repped by CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein, next stars as gangster Mickey Cohen in Warner Bros.’ period crime movie Gangster Squad, which opens Jan. 11.

Peter Oberth
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