John McTiernan's 'Shrapnel' Moving Forward As Financing Lines Up, But Without Nicolas Cage

by Kevin Jagernauth
July 15, 2011 1:20 AM
2 Comments
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Update: The Wrap has heard back from reps for Cage who say he's dropped out of the movie. Moreover, while a fall start is being eyed, it's not quite a sure thing just yet.

It really seemed too good to be true. Back in March, it was reported that Nicolas Cage and John Travolta -- who memorably gave us the better-than-it-ever-deserved-to-be face-switching action pic "Face/Off" in 1997 -- were eyeing two projects as potential vehicles to get them back on screen together. One was “Sea Trial” written by Raymond De Felitta (”City Island”), a thriller set on a yacht that follows a pair of couples on what is supposed to be a romantic cruise, only for things to turn deadly when one couple isn’t all that they seem. The other was "Shrapnel" a gritty wilderness action pic with troubled director John McTiernan at the helm and, rather remarkably, it looks like it may happen.

As you may recall, McTiernan was once the toast of Hollywood, an elite action director who made his name with films like "Die Hard," "Predator" and "The Hunt for Red October" but whose career derailed severely with a double whammy of awful films "Rollerball" and "Basic." But the worst was yet to come. In 2006 he was tied up in the Anthony Pellicano scandal that rocked Tinseltown and was charged with lying to the FBI about using the shady investigator's illegal services. The case has dragged for years as these things tend to go and eventually the director decided to withdraw his guilty plea and perjured himself in the process, leading him to be sentenced to a year in prison. Of course, this led to an appeal, but importantly for the 62-year old McTiernan there is now a brief window of hope -- if everything goes to plan he will get "Shrapnel" in the can before he gets tangled up again in legal proceedings.

According to The Wrap, Belgian backers Corsan -- who financed the forthcoming "The Devil's Double" -- will foot the bill for the film. McTiernan himself is apparently already scouting locations in Canada for the shoot, but of course, none of this is official just yet. But if somehow this all does come together, the project sounds pretty exciting. Penned by Evan Daugherty, the man behind "Snow White and the Huntsman," his Black List script has undergone a few tweaks but is basically in the "Face/Off" mold, this time centering on a former Bosnian soldier who enters a deadly game of cat and mouse as he seeks vengeance against the American solider who wounded him, as they hunt each other in the Rockies. Here is an official synopsis Quiet Earth dug up earlier this year:

SHRAPNEL tells the story of two veterans of the Bosnian War, one American, one Serbian, who clash in the remote Rocky Mountain wilderness. FORD is a former American soldier who fought on the front lines in Bosnia. When our story begins, he has retreated to a remote cabin in the woods, trying to escape painful memories of war.

The drama begins when KOVAC, a former Serbian soldier, seeks Ford out, hoping to settle an old score. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game in which Ford and Kovac fght their own personal World War III, with battles both physical and psychological. By the end of the flm, old wounds are opened, suppressed memories are drawn to the surface and long-hidden secrets about both Ford and Kovac are revealed.

Last we heard, this was going to roll by June but obviously that date came and went. Still, it looks like a summer start remains a possibility. While both Travolta and Cage have edged more toward parodies of themselves in recent years (with each contacting their own outrageous wig designer), the prospect of the two of them scenery-chewing once again is too good to pass up. And while McTiernan can severely miss as much as he can hit, when he's firing on all cylinders he's one of the best in the game and we'd love to see him come back and show everyone how to do old-school action right.

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More: Films, Actors, Killing Season, Nicolas Cage

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2 Comments

  • Charles | July 15, 2011 6:13 AMReply

    I agree with you, Mark, and I'd add The Thomas Crown Affair remake to the list. McTiernan has made some of the greatest action movies of all time. The guy is so underrated. He started 3 of the biggest franchises out there! And nobody has come close to the standard he set for each series.

  • Mark | July 15, 2011 1:56 AMReply

    Predator, Die Hard, Red October and the first 90 minutes of With A Vengeance are all sensational. Would love to have seen his cut of Eaters of the Dead too, before Crichton took over and refashioned it into The 13th Warrior.

    Fingers crossed.

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