By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 28, 2011 at 5:40AM
Neil Marshall No Longer Attached To Direct
Does "The Professionals" sound familiar? It might. Last spring, the project first cropped up with Neil Marshall set to direct but since then, word on the project has been quiet. But today, there is fresh life and some big, big names being tossed around as potential leads.
Deadline reports that Lionsgate UK has snatched up the rights to the project and movement is happening to lock down a director and cast with plans to shoot later this year. Based on the Brit cop show, which aired from 1977 to 1983, the story follows an ex-cop and an ex-soldier in a secret law enforcement division called CI5, who use unconventional, sometimes illegal means to fight crimes that can't be handled by the police. It's been described as a bit of a British "Starsky & Hutch." Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins played the original agent pair, with Gordon Jackson as their sour boss. But with this new version looking to raise the stakes and go big, no surprise on the names being tossed around. Tom Hardy, Gerard Butler and Jason Statham are being eyed for agents Bodie and Doyle, while Liam Neeson and Gary Oldman are on the wishlist for the boss.
Now, it should be stressed that none of them are confirmed, and depending on when the film will be shot scheduling is an issue. Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman will be tied up for most of the remaining part of the year in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises." Gerard Butler already has two films in the works for this year, the soccer comedy "Playing The Field" and plans to move on to Curtis Hanson's "Mavericks" right after. Liam Neeson just signed on for "Taken 2." While Jason Statham...well, he'll basically sign on for anything.
So it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. Depending on who directs and who's interested, we won't be too surprised if production is moved to accommodate schedules. But it's pretty clear that producers Callum McDougall ("Casino Royale," "Quantum Of Solace") and Richard Whelan ("Captain America: The First Avenger") have big intentions for the film.