September 10, 2010 12:46pm EST
John McTiernan is one of the few filmmakers who knows how to make an action movie that doesn't suck.
The director, whose credits include Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October, just signed on to helm the new action thriller Shrapnel (not to be confused with Len Wiseman's graphic novel-based sci-fi project of the same name).
Written by Evan Daugherty, the film follows two war veterans who hunt each other down in a game of cat and mouse. There will no doubt be lots of grunting and explosions. Paul Breuls and Anthony Rhulen will produce the picture.
"From the first time we read Evan's script, we believed we had the makings of a hit action film. With John McTiernan involved, the financing fell into place, and we expect to announce casting very soon," Rhulen told Variety.
Now that news is all fine and dandy, but one thing remains uncertain: McTiernan has a few legal issues to clear up. On October 4, the director faces sentencing after pleading guilty to making false statements to law enforcement officials during an investigation of Hollywood private detective Anthony Pellicano. Shrapnel's progress will likely depend on the outcome of the ruling.
Regardless, it's exciting to know that McTiernan will be behind a camera again, especially since most action films that hit theaters these days seem to be the same old, run-of-the-mill routine. Though the fore mentioned plotline sounds a bit thin, so did the loglines of most of his hits. It's his skill with the camera, his ability to create cinematic tension and his knowledge of the genre's conventions that have always made his movies better than the average actioner. Hopefully McTiernan can reinvigorate the action flick once again so that he can remind guys everywhere that his legacy shouldn't be defined by Rollerball.
Production company FilmEngine is re-opening the case of Marilyn Monroe's death. Variety reports that Marilyn will be penned by John Ryan Jr., a filmmaker-producer who is Anthony Rhulen's partner at FilmEngine.
The company has optioned the life rights of Lionel Grandison, a deputy Los Angeles coroner who claims he was forced to falsify Monroe's death certificate to say it was a suicide rather than murder. Grandison also contends that he read Monroe's diary, which was given to him in order to help find her next of kin. He was in possession of the diary for several days. Grandison is still alive, but the diary could not be found.
The Marilyn project brings Grandison's story to the big-screen for the first time. His involvement with Monroe's case has been mentioned in several books. Her death is one of the great mysteries of Hollywood and American culture. A voluptuous vixen and beloved sex symbol with worldwide notoriety, Monroe's tragic passing has been the subject of many works of non-fiction that delve into the possible cover-up and conspiracy surrounding her death and the star herself has been the subject of fans affections for years.
What starts out as a case of mistaken identity turns into a war between two of New York’s most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). They both believe laid-back Slevin (Josh Hartnett) staying at his absent friend’s apartment is the guy who owes them money--and they both set about to make sure he pays them back one way or another. The happy-go-lucky girl next door (Lucy Liu) tries to help Slevin unravel the mystery but the whole mistaken identity thing gets him into even more hot water when a relentless detective (Stanley Tucci) hounds him--and an infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) tracks him. Looks like Slevin is going to have to come up with his own ingenious plot to get himself out of this fine mess he’s in. And I do mean ingenious. With character names such as “The Rabbi ” “The Boss ” “Goodkat ” and “The Girl Next Door” you know you’re in for some style over substance which is probably why the script attracted such a top-notch cast. Josh Hartnett (who starred in Slevin director Paul McGuigan’s weirdly romantic Wicker Park) tries something different as the affable Slevin a guy who seems pretty smooth on the surface but who has some seriously twisted ulterior motives. Liu also veers from her usual icy villainess to play Slevin’s kooky love interest bouncing all over the screen like a pinball. Willis revisits his Jackal character but adds a certain panache to the hit man role. And then there’s Kingsley and Freeman. As the Rabbi Kingsley deliciously chews things up while Freeman deftly plays his usual understated self as the Boss. When these two have their one and only confrontation the Oscar winners show us exactly what acting is all about. Lucky Number Slevin is a bit of an enigma. It starts off shaky. You feel like you’re watching something you’ve seen done a million times before: Mistaken identity quirky crime lords who want him dead the bumblin’ cop the hardened assassin. But in the capable hands of Scottish director Paul McGuigan(Gangster No. 1) things aren’t what they appear to be and soon you are thoroughly involved forgiving its formulaic beginning. Much like the recent Inside Man this is yet another excellent example of taking something prescribed and turning it on its ear. Of course much of the intelligence comes from the smartly written script by Jason Smilovic who supplies the actors with plenty of juicy mouthfuls. But Slevin makes you think. It makes you want to find the clues so you can figure out the puzzle. Or if you didn’t catch the clue have it shown to you in an inventive way. Thank god independent film these days offers such new and resourceful ways to watch staid themes.
Why bother with scripted material? In The Real Cancun camera crews follow 16 college kids for eight days of spring break debauchery in Cancun Mexico and record every drunken sexual and shirt-lifting moment. In true The Real World fashion casting producers went out of their way to select a diverse and uninhibited bunch that would beget enough clashes and hookups to tantalize moviegoers for 97 minutes. The ensemble includes among others strictly platonic buds Heidi and David non-drinker Alan Texas Tech party twins Roxanne and Nicole the already hitched Sarah and male slut Jeremy. Add lots of alcohol to the mix and things get interesting. The gang of drunken teens eventually peer-pressures Alan into drinking and we get to witness his life spiral out of control: "I wanna see hooties!" the former square peg hollers after his first shot of tequila. That's about as deep as it gets folks but it's doubtful anyone going to see The Real Cancun is expecting anything meaningful. Moviegoers will at least walk away from this film with two invaluable lessons: Men will discover that head-game playing women long to be pursued by virile members of the opposite sex; women come to the realization that all men really want is to get laid.
With the exception of a few players The Real Cancun cast is a pretty likeable one. One of the most memorable is Wisconsin native Laura. This kewpie thinks she has met the man of her dreams in sexpot Jeremy. But barely a day after they hook up this insensitive guy is already moving on to his next target--with Laura in the same room. You'll love how she spends the rest of the trip blatantly sabotaging his potential trysts as best she can. There's also Sky who spends several days teasing Paul into a sexual tizzy only to leave him hanging. When Paul eventually stumbles into a more receptive girl's bed he finds himself face to face with the Wrath of Sky. Duh--doesn't he get that she would have given it up had he pursued her just one more day? But with 16 teens to document it would be impossible to relate to so many different spring break experiences and some inevitably fall by the wayside. Amber Brittany and Fletch for example were either forgotten about or left on the cutting room floor. Others like Miami model Casey are simply too flaky to care about.
Helmer Rick De Oliviera previously served as executive producer on a couple of MTV series--and it shows with this directorial debut. The movie plays out like a truncated season of The Real World complete with enthusiastic introductions fights hook-ups and sad good-byes. The difference is the film is filled with R-rated bonuses including a wet T-shirt contest some grainy nighttime surveillance footage of teens bumping and grinding away and other things they can't get away with on cable TV. Here's an afterthought: wouldn't it be cool if the producers brought the kids back for a reunion special so we could find out who left Cancun with crabs? The Real Cancun of course doesn't deal with the downside of Spring Break or its repercussions. But if you let yourself be immersed in its irrelevance it actually has some enticing moments which to some moviegoers might be the nipple-pierced twins' incestuous striptease. Actually one of the funniest moments is from an outtake in which Heidi calls her mom to tell her rapper Snoop Dogg is staying at their beachfront villa. "A loose dog?" mom shoots back proving yet again that parents just don't understand.