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'Incendies' Director Denis Villeneuve To Take On Hot Black List Script 'Prisoners'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 22, 2011 at 10:19AM

Leonardo DiCaprio No Longer Attached To StarSo, where do we begin with "Prisoners"? How about with a bit of a history lesson, but essentially, keep in mind that of all the Black List scripts of the last few years making noise, this taut vigilante thriller may have been the white-hottest of all of them, only to drop off and practically go dark. But it's coming back to life, albeit in a very different form. We digress. Here's its inception.
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Leonardo DiCaprio No Longer Attached To Star



So, where do we begin with "Prisoners"? How about with a bit of a history lesson, but essentially, keep in mind that of all the Black List scripts of the last few years making noise, this taut vigilante thriller may have been the white-hottest of all of them, only to drop off and practically go dark. But it's coming back to life, albeit in a very different form. We digress. Here's its inception.

After its No. 4 slot inclusion on the Black List in 2009, the film quickly came together with the high-powered A-list team of director Bryan Singer, with actors Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale as the picture's two leads before both thesps eventually moved on to David O. Russell's "The Fighter." Singer bailed out shortly thereafter.

Antoine Fuqua then came on board with Hugh Jackman linked for a January 2010 shoot, but production was then delayed because Jackman seemingly never officially signed on. Then in February of last year Leonardo DiCaprio stepped in as a possible star but it was a very brief window, and his participation was contingent on a director he loved. Names were batted around and other directors started eyeing the gig, one of them being Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinosa, who gained major Hollywood heat for his still-to-be-released-in-the-U.S. thriller "Snabba Cash" ("Easy Money"). "Safe House" with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds came together quicker for Espinosa and DiCaprio eventually moved on as well. That's a pretty amazing array of talent that were once interested, but we pretty much figured the project was somehow inexplicably left for dead, but it now appears to be some new life with an intriguing choice in the director's chair.

24 Frames reports that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, who helmed the critically praised and Oscar nominated "Incendies," has been tapped to make his Hollywood and English-language debut with the film that is currently set up at Warner Bros.

Penned by Aaron Guzikowski (who wrote the upcoming Mark Wahlberg thriller "Contraband") "Prisoners" has been compared to such films as "Mystic River," "Taken," "Silence of the Lambs" and "Seven." It centers on a Bible-reading, deer hunting survivalist who takes the law into his own hands after his 6-year-old daughter and her friend are kidnapped and feels failed by a young, brash detective in charge of the investigation who cannot prove that the man he believes is responsible is guilty. It sounds very much like a gritty, no holds barred take on the in vogue every-man vigilante film and it was one of the few 2009 Black List scripts that seemed to be racing towards production. We've read the screenplay, and while it in no way reinvents the wheel, it's crackling, great stuff. It will take some great leads to make it work, but the material is very, very strong and we're glad to finally see it back on track with a new director at the helm.

The wheels are turning on this one. While no one is attached just yet, casting will begin for the film as it gears up to shoot this fall. The only question is, with a lesser-known director without as much heat as the previously attached names, will the cast also be less mega-wattage and with similar on-the-rise and buzzed about trajectories? Actually, that might be the best thing possible for this story.

This article is related to: Films, Foreign Directors, Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve


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