Age no barrier for him
Sean Penn stars in his first action film, The Gunman
We women like to tell ourselves that age is just a number.
And it sure looks like Hollywood agrees - at least when it comes to male stars.
The names that adorn the billboards today are pretty much those that anchored action flicks in the 80s and 90s.
Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise are icons who are still kicking it and chopsocking the bad guys.
The latest retro veteran to jump into the world of action films is Sean Penn.
The 54-year-old stars in The Gunman, which opens here on April 9, over 30 years after his first movie role.
In The Gunman, he plays Terrier, a brutal mercenary-turned-humanitarian whose past has come back to haunt him.
With his life at stake, Terrier must return to his old ways and track down those who want him dead.
Also starring Javier Bardem and Idris Elba, The Gunman is an all-out action flick that sees Penn unleashing his anger on his assailants in every possible way.
Directed by Taken's Pierre Morel, The Gunman is Penn's attempt at rebranding his career, one that takes him from highbrow dramas to mass appeal entertainment.
Known as a terrific actor with two Oscars and many other awards to his name, Penn has taken great pains to be part of the "old guy in action movies" clique.
First, he served as The Gunman's producer, which means he has full say in what he wants to do. Second, he gave his body a facelift.
A six-pack and bulging muscles are not exactly what you'd associate with Penn, but that's what he transformed himself into. A proportionate Stallone, so to speak.
In an interview with USA Today, Penn brushed off questions about his "new body", simply saying it was "diet and exercise".
"I find anatomical discussions much more interesting when centred on the female form," he said. "So I'll leave it at that."
In keeping with his penchant for method acting, Penn attended a special military training camp to help get into character and also did many of the stunts himself.
Only time will tell if the world will appreciate Sean Penn 2.0 the way it embraced the rebranded Liam Neeson.
For a no-nonsense guy like Penn to go out on a limb like this and put up his gloves for a good old rumble is an interesting development. It may well open up another avenue for Penn to flex his acting muscles.
So what if The Gunman opened to only US$5 million (S$6.8 million) at the US box office last week and was totally eclipsed by the young adult actioner The Divergent Series: Insurgent?
Not that Penn cares. He is Sean Penn, after all, and if he decides to play to Hollywood's current fetish for geriatric action heroes, young guns like Taylor Lautner can jolly well wait in line.