Home / Entertainment / best critic slams: ‘The Gunman’ vs. ‘Taken’ – USA TODAY
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best critic slams: ‘The Gunman’ vs. ‘Taken’ – USA TODAY

Sean Penn is coming for you, America. (Open Road)

Sean Penn is coming for you, America. (Open Road)

Sean Penn’s first action film, The Gunman, hits theaters today. Your dad will probably like it. This (female) writer liked it. But, um, not everyone did. The big question is, will The Gunman do Taken-style business? Sean Penn had this to say about all the Liam Neeson comparisons (both films share the same director, FYI). “Taken is a movie starring a 6’4”, masculine, melodically-voiced, deeply decent good man who is fighting for putting his life at risk for the people he loves,” Penn pointed out in our profile. “Our movie is about a 5’9” conflicted man who is really fighting for himself.” Of course, Neeson’s career-changing action flick went on to gross $ 226 million worldwide and spawned two sequels (plus some awesome parodies and one terrifying bedtime story). Here’s how critics reacted to both:

‘Taken’ … down by the critics

He had a particular set of skills, if you'll recall. (Fox)

He had a particular set of skills, if you’ll recall. (Fox)

USA TODAY’s Claudia Puig likedTaken‘! “With some suspension of disbelief and a strong stomach, it’s possible to get taken in, or at least absorbed, by this adrenaline-pumping action thriller.”

Rolling Stone did not: “It’s fun for about 15 minutes seeing Liam Neeson do James Bond as Daddy Dangerous. But the surprise wears off quickly. I suspect this guilty pleasure, directed at whiplash speed by Pierre Morel. will go down much easier on DVD with a few beers and a slice of pizza with extra cheese.”

And Time wanted a refund. “The film promises so much more than it delivers that by the end, I felt like registering a complaint with the Obama Administration’s consumer-protection squad.”

‘The Gunman’ gets shot up, too

Our Claudia was no fan. “Unless you’re aching to see Sean Penn’s impressively chiseled pecs and abs — which he shows off early and often — give this monotonous thriller a pass,” she writes.

NPR also passed. “A dum-dum action picture that briefly pretends to be about world aid before returning to muscular, middle-aged men beating the snot out of each other.”

But Salon said, the hell with it, yes! “Here we have a 54-year-old, two-time Oscar winner, a consummate actor’s actor who has played all kinds of parts in all kinds of films, trying to blaze a new path as the second coming of Jason Statham or Vin Diesel. But I’ll be damned if Penn doesn’t pull it off, although I’m not sure the public is lining up to see the guy who played Harvey Milk transformed into a hard-body CIA assassin seeking redemption.”

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