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Liam Neeson To Star In One-Time Harrison Ford Project 'A Walk Among The Tombstones'

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by Oliver Lyttelton
May 17, 2012 1:00 PM
3 Comments
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Update: Left off Deadline's original story, but included in the press release, is the news that Scott Frank will be directing his own script. Anyone who saw his terminally undervalued directorial debut "The Lookout" know that this is very good news indeed.

It seems barely a week goes by without it being announced that Liam Neeson is attached to play some kind of badass. Ever since "Taken" renewed his stardom, he's been a busy bee, punching people (and wolves) in everything from "The A-Team" and "Clash Of The Titans" to "The Grey" and the upcoming "Non-Stop." Only this morning saw images of Neeson giving bad-guys the what for in "Taken 2," the sequel to the original smash. So ordinarily, we'd be forgiven for greeting the announcement of a new hardboiled crime thriller starring the Irish actor with a roll of the eyes.

But the latest project that the actor's involved with could be something a little different, as the actor is now attached to star in "A Walk Among The Tombstones," a long gestating adaptation of Lawrence Block's novel of the same name. See, the novel is a dark, uncompromising thriller, about a P.I, Matthew Scudder (played by Jeff Bridges in Hal Ashby's "8 Million Ways To Die"), who's hired by a drug dealer to find the men who kidnapped him, and murdered his wife. Things only get darker and tougher from there: it's more "Chinatown" than "Unknown." And furthermore, the script comes from the excellent Scott Frank ("Get Shorty," "Out Of Sight"). And we've read it. And it's ace. 

Frank's script was originally written a decade ago, with the intention that Harrison Ford would star as Scudder, and with Joe Carnahan, fresh off his breakthrough "Narc," chosen to direct. But the star, according to the screenwriters, "chickened out," saying that " his customers wouldn't want to see him in something like this," and the film faltered. But movement started to appear on the film again last year, when "Eagle Eye" director D.J. Caruso became attached to direct. It's not clear if he's still involved: there's no mention of the helmer in the press release for the project, which is being produced by Cross Creek ("The Ides Of March") and will be released by Universal, so we suspect he's since moved on.

Frankly, we hope that someone other than Caruso ends up helming the film -- it could be quite easy to turn it into another anonymous actioner, especially given how disengaged Neeson seems in things like "Battleship," and we'd rather someone with a little more edge -- Australians Justin Kurzel or David Michod, for instance, or even someone like Nicolas Winding Refn -- took a run at the film. We're sure it'll become clear in the coming weeks and months. As it's now become clear, Scott Frank is directing the project himself. The idea is the film will go before cameras in February 2013, presumably after some of his upcoming projects, which include "Non-Stop," Paul Haggis' "Third Person," Lee Daniels' "The Butler" and possibly Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," and presumably a Spring 2014 release is the plan. And in the right hands, this could be a Neeson project to get truly excited about. 

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3 Comments

  • Ian | May 18, 2012 1:19 AMReply

    Harrison Ford's turned down his share of clunkers ("Dragonfly," "Proof of Life") but the list of good movies he could have done and would have been great in is long ("Traffic," "JFK," "The Untouchables," "Saving Private Ryan," "Syriana") and movies like this and Nicholas Refn's "The Dying of the Light" which couldn't get greenlit because he dropped out... He's making more considered choices these days, but it's quite something to see how the last decade could have been a lot smoother sailing if he'd chosen his roles as well as he had in the 80s and 90s.

  • Mike | May 17, 2012 1:39 PMReply

    Glad to see that strike through lead to the mention that Frank's directing it himself, The Lookout was excellent and he's been missed ever since. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was pretty great popcorn, but I can't ever stop wondering what it might have been with him at the helm.

  • Stephen B | May 17, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    Neeson wouldn't have been someone I'd have thought of for Matt Scudder, but I think he works just fine, and it sounds like Frank's script is great. I'd love to see this become a franchise as there are a ton of great Scudder books. This is probably the most grisly of the Scudder books. Now I need to go back and watch The Lookout.

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