By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 13, 2011 at 2:06AM
For a brief time after the release of surprise hit, "Taken," it seemed as though the world was Pierre Morel's oyster. The one-time DoP had cult success with "District 13," and his follow-up, the Liam Neeson starrer, was an enormous worldwide hit, landing the French director at the top of action/sci-fi wishlists, and giving him the plum job of replacing Peter Berg on the adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel "Dune." But things haven't been so smooth since: "Dune" was canceled by Paramount, he didn't land the job of directing Universal's tentpole "Ouija," and his third directorial effort "From Paris With Love" disappointed commercially.
Not to be bowed, however, Morel is moving on, and has announced, via Variety, his first dip into producing waters, for a European-set actioner that seems firmly within the Luc Besson-inspired niche in which he made his name. The trade reports that Morel will produce, as well as serving as the 'action and art supervisor,' on "Overdrive," an English-language action thriller that's landed troubled next-big-thing Alex Pettyfer and "Watchmen" star Matthew Goode in the lead roles.
The British duo will play a handsome pair of car-thieving brothers, who butt heads with a powerful crime boss after they up sticks to the South of France. The script comes from an experienced pair of action writers, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, who were behind the likes of "2 Fast 2 Furious," "3:10 To Yuma" and "Wanted," and Colombian director Antonio Negret, who's recently made his U.S. debut on the James Caviezel actioner "Transit," will helm, with Morel involved in every step of production.
Kinology are selling the film at Cannes at present, with the company's topper Gregoire Melin commenting that "'"Overdrive" is an action flick with brains and a great dose of humor, mixing elements of "Point Break" and "The Hangover."" We can't say that we particularly like any of these brainless Euro-actioners, but we do like Matthew Goode a lot, so we're glad to see him in a leading role, while it at least marks another upswing for Pettyfer, who seems to be bouncing back from the bad buzz he gained earlier in the year with both this and last night's news that he'll star opposite Channing Tatum in Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike." Filming gets underway soon in Marseille, and it's expected to be completed by Summer 2012.