Doug Liman's "Fair Game" starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts is about to enter theaters this weekend. Some of us liked it, others of us disliked it, but the consensus on The Playlist team seems to be that no one quite loves it. You'll get another review this week and here's our original take on the film from a review penned at Cannes earlier this year. Regardless, we're glad that films like "Fair Game" are being made instead of pictures like say, uhh, "Jumper" (a 2008 Liman sci-fi teleportation film that just doesn't work at all).
Regardless, another big sci-fi film is next for Liman — an adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's time-travel action novel, "All You Need Is Kill" — right? Just what we need, another time-travel film from Liman. Maybe not so fast, another project we long assumed dead is something Liman is still working on.
In an interview with Coming Soon, Liman says "All You Need Is Kill" is "one of the two projects I'm actively working on." The other one? The untitled "Moon" project that was announced in the fall of 2007 with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead. While it remains to be seen if the young star is still officially attached to the project (there's probably an expiration date in his contract that has now lapsed), it's good to hear this project — which we feared had become obsolete because of Duncan Jones' excellent lunar film, "Moon" — is still gestating and on the docket.
So which one is coming next? Liman said, "Both of them are in budgeting and both have small, early crews on them," which is to say, he doesn't know quite yet as he doesn't have an official green light from either film. "All You Need Is Kill" is set up over at Warner Bros. and last we heard, Dreamworks was shepherding the Untitled Moon Project.
We assumed there would be overlap on this and Jones, project, but digging up those old reports, Liman's version is dubbed an "actioner" that "revolves around a private expedition to the moon and the race for lunar colonization." A 2007 New York Magazine piece called it a big-budget project based on a script he wrote more than ten years ago with his cousin John Hamburg ("I Love You, Man") about a private expedition to the moon.
The last concrete update seemed to come in Feb, 2009 when the trades reported that Hamburg and Liman's script was being rewritten, again. First Mark Bowden (the "Black Hawk Down" novel) took a crack at it (apparently it was a complete "reconception" of the original draft), and then Dan Mazeau ("Bruno") followed by the film's producer Simon Kinberg ("XxX: State Of The Union"). Then in Feb '09 the task fell to "Black Hawk Down" script scribe Ken Nolam who previously worked on the CIA miniseries "The Company."
In 2008, Liman described the project as "a celebration of America." "Even though it's a present day story it's a celebration of the fact that in 1969 we sent a man to the moon," Liman told MTV. "Just think about what a car in 1969 looked like! It's insane that we pulled that off. No other country on the planet could have done something that great."
We dig Liman's work, especially when he mixes escapist thrills with intelligent filmmaking (see "The Bourne Identity"), but his tentpole proclivities tend to worry us. But reassuring are Liman's comments about striving for some depth and weight when tackling what appears to be fluffier films on the outside. "[In] all of my movies, I try to bring a... no matter how popcorn it may seem on the surface, beneath the surface there is some kind of message or story or theme that I think is weighty and important."
We've marveled several times at how Liman seems to move from serious film ("Fair Game") to more popcorn film ("Jumper") and it's an arc the filmmaker says he'd like to continue. "So my plan from this point forward is do a big movie, do a more serious movie, do a big special effects movie, do a serious movie, because I do love the technical problem-solving that is involved in the big action movies."
So with both "Moon" and "All You Need Is Kill" somewhere in play, we hope and assume he hasn't given up on "Attica," his take on the notorious New York prison riots in the early '70s, which one could call a personal project because Liman's father, legendary attorney Arthur L. Liman, ran the investigation into the riots.