By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist February 18, 2011 at 3:52AM
Director Jaume-Collet Serra is hot hot hot. The "Orphan" helmer has the relatively warmly received thriller "Unknown" hitting theaters this weekend -- a film that seems to be getting a "it's good for what it is" pass from a decent number of critics -- and he recently signed on to direct "Harker," a reimagining of the Dracula for Warner Bros. Additionally, Paramount has also shortlisted the helmer for "G.I. Joe 2" and now one more project is crossing his desk.
Deadline reports that Serra is making a deal to direct the long-gestating remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's stone cold noir classic "Le Cercle Rouge" ("Red Circle"). The crackerjack plot follows a thief who teams up with a recently escaped murderer and a sharpshooter for a daring jewel heist. Hot on the thief's tail is a mob boss looking to catch him after being ripped off and police offer trying to bring in the escaped convict.
If the project sounds familiar to you, it's one that has been knocking around for a little while now. At its earliest stages, way back in 2004, it was set up at Paramount with John Woo attached to direct a script by Jeff Pinker ("Alias," "Fringe"). Woo is a longtime fan of Melville's films and even wrote an essay about "Le Cercle Rouge" for the Criterion edition of the film. Obviously, Woo's film never came to fruition and a few years later, he left the project and Johnnie To ("Election," "Vengeance," "Time & Tide") assumed the director's seat. This incarnation seemed to gather steam, amassing a cast that one point had Liam Neeson, Chow Yun-Fat, Orlando Bloom, Tim Roth and Alain Delon (who starred in the original) attached or offered roles, with a script by Steve Knight ("Eastern Promises," "Dirty Pretty Things") that was on 2009's Brit List of the best unproduced screenplays. More recently, John Hillcoat was offered a chance to direct but he too moved on.
Well, the Knight script is still in place and the film is set up at Working Title Films. We're always been cagey about a remake of Melville's film because it's pretty much near perfect. The success of that film is less about the mechanics of the plot than the overall mood and tenor; it's a slow boil, the kind of which is rarely done nowadays and we worry that with Serra at the helm, it will be just become another generic actioner. That said, we do have faith that Knight's script is a cut above, and if this does get made, hopefully it serve as the basis for a better-than-average remake.
Serra hasn't decided yet what his next feature will be so this still may be well down the line. He'll next direct the pilot episode of the ABC series "The River," created by "Paranormal Activity" sensation Oren Peli.