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March 27, 2015

At the Movies: Sean Penn flexes muscles in ‘Gunman'

AP National Writer

At one point in “The Gunman,” the new Sean Penn geopolitical thriller, our star goes surfing. It's supposed to show he has a reckless side, since he's surfing in unsafe territory, but it seems to have a larger, much more obvious purpose: To show us that Penn, at 54, is ripped. Very, very ripped.

It's no accident that the trailer for “The Gunman” notes prominently that it comes from the director of “Taken” (Pierre Morel), the 2008 thriller that transformed Liam Neeson into a no-nonsense, border-hopping, middle-aged action star. Despite the high-minded issues ostensibly at play here — Western commercial exploitation of Africa, guilt and penance, love and abandonment — we soon realize the goal is pretty much the same as in “Taken”: to have us watch Penn's muscles ripple as he kicks butt in a variety of picturesque locales.

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