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Movie mistakes: Why the copy cat syndrome rarely works in movies

While no one can argue that actor Sean Penn is a master at his craft and one of the best on screen performers of this, or any, generation, you would be hard pressed to find many critics or fans alike that thought much of his latest release, "The Gunman."
For as much star power as Penn and others in the movie have, and even though the director of the film was the same man who pushed the "Taken" franchise to great heights, "The Gunman" shot blanks over this past weekend and scrounged up around $5 million in total box office revenue.
Some have argued that Penn was hoping to reinvent himself as an action star in the same mold as Liam Neeson and the aforementioned "Taken" movies. And while that may be true to some extent, the real story that follows this sad performance by "The Gunman" centers more on Hollywood feasting its eyes on a movie formula, copying it and hoping for the same result its predecessor or the original experienced.
Here's the deal: "Taken" was a terrific movie that resurrected the career of Neeson but also showed action movies can still be relevant in today's Hollywood. As much as the typical 1980s action star and subsequent movies have died off considerably, "Taken" showed there was still room for success in that particular genre. The movie spawned two sequels and has given Neeson opportunities to do other films of that same ilk and keep him relatively busy for a 60 something year old "action" star.
The release of "The Gunman" reeked more of trying to apply the "Taken" prototype and hoping it would do the same for Penn as it did for Neeson, but the formulaic approach to movie making never usually works more than a few times.

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Penn is a talented actor, more so than Neeson by far as far as acting chops go, and Penn doesn't need movies like "The Gunman" to continue being a go to guy in Hollywood as it relates to Academy Award buzz performances or movies critics and fans alike laud for being extraordinary, rather than panned like his forage into action movies.
Ironically, there's nothing necessarily wrong per say with "The Gunman," the movie itself is average, if not slightly above after an initial viewing. This movie never had a chance because it just has the look and feel of a movie producer, director, studio and star trying way to hard to capture that proverbial lighting in a bottle that was leftover from another set of movies in that same vein.

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