While his “Pitch Black” and “Chronicles of Riddick” star Vin Diesel takes to Facebook to whine about being paid scale for director David Twohy’s (unnecessary) third installment of that series, Twohy seems to be a little more productive on the filmmaking front.
While Twohy recently lost out on the James Patterson adaptation “I, Alex Cross ,” ComingSoon reports that Alcon Entertainment is in final negations for “The Leonardo Job,” with Twohy set to write and direct. This may seem fairly straightforward, but if you connect-the-dots, you’ll see that this movie has taken an amazingly circuitous route from inception to big screen realization.
Back in 2005 it was announced that Twohy, who had written an unrelated spec script called “The Wrecking Crew,” would be transforming the “Crew” screenplay into the sequel for the 2003 Mark Wahlberg heist movie “The Italian Job” (itself a remake of a 1969 Michael Caine film of the same name). This new script, entitled “The Brazilian Job” (which makes it sound like some kind of elaborate hair removal process), seemed to gain traction. When Coming Soon talked to original “Job” director F. Gary Gray in 2009 (around the release of his revenge thriller “Law Abiding Citizen”), he seemed non-committal at best, offering up the standard “Gee, I hope so” response.
We’re guessing, based on the fact that the word “Job” is in the title of the screenplay and it has a similar caper vibe, that Twohy regained control of that original script and will just direct that before committing to Universal’s next Riddick entry. Hopefully it’ll be Mini Cooper-free.
According to the report, “The Leonardo Job” is set against the search for a lost piece of art by Leonardo Da Vinci named “The Battle of Anghari” (which many art historians believe is hidden beneath another one of the master's frescoes in Florence). Two rival thieves are forced to work together to track down the priceless artifact, using cool gadgets to pinpoint its location behind another masterpiece. Only they aren’t the only ones on the painting’s trail. This also sounds like it could be the third installment in the “National Treasure” franchise, without any of Nicolas Cage’s excellent shouting.
Twohy is a genre stalwart who started out writing screenplays that were quickly snapped up if not exactly Shakespearean (things like the Julian Sands horror movie “Warlock” and the incredibly subtitled sequel “Critters 2: The Main Course”) before moving into the big leagues with his script for the Oscar-nominated “The Fugitive.” He managed to weather the storm of “Waterworld” mostly because he had nothing to do with its disastrous shoot, and wrote and directed the smart, small-scale sci-fi thriller “The Arrival” in 1996 starring a pre-breakdown Charlie Sheen. In the years since, in addition to the aforementioned “Riddick” and the still-quite-good “Pitch Black,” he wrote scripts for Ridley Scott (“G.I. Jane”) and overhauled the long gestating Darren Aronofsky horror project “Below” into an unexpectedly spooky ghost story set aboard a World War II submarine (he also directed). Most recently he wrote and directed the tropically-set whodunit “A Perfect Getaway,” which was a smart summer surprise a couple of years ago. As a filmmaker he’s a craftsman who you’d think the studios would utilize more readily – he’s comfortable with a smallish budget, works well with actors (look at the cast for “Below”), and navigates special effects well. The biggest problem with the “Chronicles of Riddick” was that things were simply too big – the sets, the effects, the ego of its main star – and the entire thing became a muddy mess, more invested in mythology than the raw thrills he can so easily muster.
While we could really care less about a nearly decade-old heist script, if there’s anyone that can deliver it in a snappy, appropriately adrenalized way, it’s Twohy. It will hopefully also loosen him up for the forthcoming “Riddick” adventure, should that come to pass (it’s not exactly a great time for potentially costly, high concept franchise features over at Universal). - additional reporting by Drew Taylor