Nov 5, 2009

Tradecraft: Red Signals Tourists

The Tourist

Boy, that movie The Tourist has had one of the most convoluted roads to production of any recent spy film! Here's a brief recap with links to the relevant posts: In mid-2008, The Hollywood Reporter reported that superstar Tom Cruise had "entered into negotiations" to star in The Tourist, a remake of the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer. Frequent MI-5 (Spooks) director Bharat Nalluri was set to direct from a script by Gosford Park screenwriter Julian Fellowes. A few months later, Variety reported that Charlize Theron was attached to play "a female Interpol agent who uses an American tourist in an attempt to flush out an elusive criminal with whom she once had an affair." Cruise remained attached as well, and shortly thereafter brought in his own favorite script doctor Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) to rewrite the script. McQuarrie was simultaneously tailoring a few other projects for Cruise, including Guillermo Del Toro's draft of The Champions, a remake of a cult classic ITC spy show from the Sixties. (I pray that that project is still alive!) When Cruise became attached to the Robert Ludlum spy film The Matarese Circle this past February, Variety asserted that The Tourist was still expected to be his next project. Then in May Cruise surprised everyone by selecting yet another spy movie as his next project instead, opting to co-star with Cameron Diaz in what was then known as Wichita, and is now called Knight & Day. Was he still involved with The Tourist? At the time, Variety thought it possible that he might still do it "down the line," but by August it became clear that wasn't the case; The Hollywood Reporter reported that Terminator: Salvation and Avatar star Sam Worthington had been selected to replace him. Theron remained attached... up until last month, anyway, when she bowed out only to be replaced by Angelina Jolie, who had previously come aboard another spy movie that Cruise had abandoned, Salt. Cruise and Theron had been replaced over the course of a year and a half, at different times, by Jolie and Worthington. And, quite excitingly, Jolie brought with her The Lives of Others director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. (It's unclear when Nalluri left.) Now the project in perpetual flux has encountered still further changes!

Today, Variety reports that Worthington is out, along with von Donnersmarck (aww!), both exiting over "creative differences." Now another superstar on par with Cruise is in talks to star opposite Jolie: Johnny Depp. Additionally, "directors including Alfonso Cuaron are already circling" the long-gestating project. And Jeffrey Nachmanoff has done yet another rewrite on the script. The star wattage would certainly be high with Depp and Jolie. It sounds like a cool pairing to me. But will this one finally stick? It will be interesting to see...

Red

In other news, The Hollywood Reporter reports that the cast for Red, Summit's adaptation of a Wildstorm/DC comic book, is filling out. The trade offers a quick refresher on the premise: "It's the tale of a former black-ops agent (Bruce Willis), now in retirement, who has to contend with younger, more high-tech assassins who show up to kill him." As well as Willis, Morgan Freeman has long been attached. Earlier this week, Hellen Mirren joined the cast as a fellow assassin, and now John C. Reilly and Mary-Louise Parker have also come aboard. According to the trade, "Reilly would play a retired CIA agent who is paranoid that everyone is out to kill him [and] Parker would play the romantic interest, a federal pension worker who becomes embroiled in the Willis character's struggle to stay alive." I've never read (or even heard of) this comic book, but the movie seems to be shaping up quite nicely with this cast. It seems like one to keep an eye on.

Signals

In a big day for spy news, The Hollywood Reporter also reports that Taken and From Paris With Love director Pierre Morel has signed on to direct a thriller called Signals. Since the logline is being kept under wraps, it's not entirely clear that this is a spy movie, but it sounds that way from the few clues that are given: "[Richard] Potter and [Matthew] Stravitz's contemporary story line is secret but is expected to take on the tone of a 1970s-era paranoid thriller like Three Days of the Condor. Morel, a former camera operator and cinematographer, spun similarly gritty material with Taken's kidnapping/revenge plot." The runaway success of Taken has put Morel in high demand. Earlier this year he became attached to Pursuit, a Ludlumesque thriller for Captivate Entertainment, the company built on Robert Ludlum's library of titles. He's also attached to an untitled Tokyo-set spy thriller for Paramount.

1 comment:

antony said...

RED was one of Warren Ellis' three-part series for Wildstorm in 2003-4, along with MEK, RELOAD and TOKYO STORM WARNING. It's good, and features beautiful artwork from Cully Hamner.