By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com November 16, 2010 at 2:07AM
Project Sounds Suspiciously Like Film-Within-A-Film From 'Tropic Thunder'
Gerard Butler and Antoine Fuqua may not have much in common on the surface, but there's one thing that links them inextricably right now: they're both former flavors-of-the-months who've had a series of recent disappointments. Butler looked like he could be the next big action star after "300," but a series of flops, from "Nim's Island" and "RocknRolla" to "Gamer" and the unfeasibly awful "Law Abiding Citizen," has seen his stock fall in a big way.
Fuqua, meanwhile, was a hot property after "Training Day," but none of his films since, from Bruce Willis war flick "Tears of the Sun" and the disastrous "King Arthur" to this year's "Brooklyn's Finest," have quite connected, and he's had a number of projects fall apart from beneath him, most notably an early version of "American Gangster," eventually filmed by Ridley Scott.
Both are edging towards more serious work next year, with Butler toplining the Marc Forster drama "Machine Gun Preacher," and playing a supporting role in Ralph Fiennes' Shakespeare adaptation "Coriolanus," while Fuqua's still set to make a Tupac Shakur biopic in the near future, although it seems to have missed its November start date. But the good news, for their bank balances, if not necessarily for the filmgoing public, is that they've both just signed on for a big-budget action film that sounds dumber than a sack of hammers.
Deadline reports that Relativity Media are in negotiations with both Fuqua and Butler to join the comic-book adaptation "Afterburn." The source material, described as "Indiana Jones meets Mad Max," is set in a future where earth has been devastated by solar flares, and follows a group of treasure hunters who scavenge what's left. There's a script from "Torque" writer Matt Johnson, which doesn't bode well -- but fear not, Christian Gudegast, writer of forgotten Vin Diesel actioner "A Man Apart" is coming on board for a polish. Oh.
On the plus side,Tobey Maguire, who has a fairly decent taste in production projects, is producing, but on the very negative side, Neal Moritz ("xXx"), a man who specializes in noisy, empty, terrible action movies), is also on board. Not only does the project sound particularly stupid (and the source material looks fairly terrible too, as this comic cover might suggest), but it also sounds not a world away from "Scorcher," the action franchise that Ben Stiller's Tugg Speedman toplined in "Tropic Thunder." There's no news on when the project might move forward, but in the meantime, check out the trailer for "Scorcher VI" below for an idea of what to expect.