May 11, 2015

Tradecraft: Liam Neeson in Talks for Spy Thriller A Willing Patriot

In interviews for each successive action movie he makes (recently Taken 3 and Run All Night), 62-year-old Liam Neeson intimates that he's on the verge of retiring from the genre. But thankfully for his fans, he keeps signing on to new action and spy projects nonetheless. His latest will be A Willing Patriot, for MadRiver Pictures and Hollywood Gang. According to Deadline, Neeson is in "final negotiations" to play a CIA agent racing the clock in a desperate bid to outsmart and capture a terrorist planning an imminent attack in this dark, gritty, violent espionage thriller that the trade describes as "a cat-and-mouse film." I say bring it on! I never get sick of seeing the perpetually cool Neeson in this sort of role, and despite the preponderance of action roles he's taken in the last decade, it's pretty rare for him to play a straight-up spy. Taken's Bryan Mills is a retired CIA agent, and the most recent film in the franchise didn't really have any spy elements in it other than Mills making use of his famous "very particular set of skills" honed in his Agency days. In Run All Night he was a drunken former gangster; in A Walk Among the Tombstones (the best of his recent efforts) he was a formerly drunken private detective; in Nonstop he was a drunken air marshal. Even in Unknown (review here), which was a spy movie, Neeson himself didn't play an agent of any intelligence service. (Nor was he a drunk for whatever reason.) So I look forward to finally seeing the "aging action star"-era Liam Neeson playing an active secret agent. Danish director Martin Zanvliet, who is best known in Europe for his behind-the-curtain show biz dramas like Applause and A Funny Man, but has also helmed the anticipated POW drama Land of Mine, will make his English language debut on A Willing Patriot. Jason Keller (Escape Plan) penned the script. The trade reports that the project was originally developed at Warner Bros., and subsequently moved over to MadRiver. "A wide domestic release deal is expected to be announced during the Cannes Film Festival."

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