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‘Taken’ Director Pierre Morel Pursues New Action Franchise

Morel is in talks to direct Sean Penn "Prone Gunman" for Silver Pictures and Studio Canal

Pierre Morel, who launched Liam Neeson’s second act as an action star in “Taken,” is in talks to direct “Prone Gunman” for Silver Pictures and Studio Canal.

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Sean Penn will star in the film, based on Jean-Patrick Manchette’s novel about an international spy betrayed by his own organization. Peter Travis adapted the book, and Silver Pictures’ Joel Silver and Andrew Rona will produce.

Silver Pictures and Studio Canal, which is financing the film, are hoping they have a new action franchise on their hands.

Morel, left, who started his career as a cinematographer, made his debut as a director with “District B13,” an adrenaline-filled film about the plot to blow up an area of Paris filled with the city’s least savory characters. He then directed “Taken,” which spawned a sequel and helped turn Neeson, long a respected actor, into an international action star.

Though he won an Oscar for playing a violent father in “Mystic River” and earned a nomination for playing an ex-convict in “Dead Man Walking,” Penn has not appeared in many strictly action movies.

The film aims to begin production in Spring 2013 across Europe.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported news of Morel's potential involvement.