By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 17, 2012 at 1:00PM
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.