Thanks to "Leon" director Luc Besson, the French have proved in recent years that they're able to produce English-language action-movies just as slam-bang and stupid as anything that Hollywood can come up with. Kicking off with the Jet Li vehicle "Kiss of the Dragon" and the Jason Statham series "The Transporter," Besson and co. have nailed the art of making a cheap, quick actioner, chucking in a few B-list American names, financing it through pre-sales, and making a tidy sum of money, helping to launch the careers of directors Louis Leterrier and Pierre Morel, and putting Liam Neeson firmly on the A-list with international smash "Taken."
Now Morel, who helmed the latter, is getting in on the act, following the footsteps of mentor Besson by producing "Overdrive," a France-set actioner penned by "Wanted" writers Derek Haas and Michael Brandt. Originally announced during Cannes, the plot involves two brothers, both car thieves, who come head-to-head with a powerful crime boss when they move to the South of France. The film's now moving ahead, still with genre director Antonio Negret ("Seconds Apart," "Transit") at the helm, but according to Heat Vision, there's been a bit of a casting shake up.
When announced in May, the film was set to star Matthew Goode and Alex Pettyfer as the two brothers (while charisma vacuum Garret Hedlund was also apparently linked to the film at some point), but this has all changed. "Star Trek" and "Lord of the Rings" star Karl Urban will replace Goode as the older brother, with "The Chronicles of Narnia" actor Ben Barnes stepping in for Pettyfer. Meanwhile, Emilia Clarke, who made a scorching debut as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's "Game of Thrones," is in talks to play the female lead, her first big-screen turn.
While we're not sure that this is any more intriguing on paper than, say, "From Paris With Love," the casting is at least promising. Urban's delivered strong performances even in disappointments like "Red" (where he stole the show from the elders), Barnes is charismatic enough, even if he's struggled to carve out an identity away from the C.S. Lewis franchise, and Clarke is a good enough actress that we hope she gets more to play here than the point of a love triangle. Filming begins on Saturday, October 29th, in Marseilles, so we'll likely see this in theaters at the tail end of 2012 or the start of 2013.