#GerardButler and #AaronEckhart Are a Dynamic Duo in 1st Trailer for #LondonHasFallen

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

Lionsgate UK has today released the first trailer for London Has Fallen, the sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen. I can only assume that the release of the trailer had been scheduled around the original October 2015 release date, before it was pushed back to January 2016*. Not that I’m complaining, It’s been a loooong time since I’ve seen Gerard Butler on the big screen (and no, animated voice acting does not count). Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective. To quote Peter Quill, I’d say it’s a “bit’a both”.

Following the events of the original film, in which Mike Banning (Butler) single-handedly saved the President (Aaron Eckhart) from the clutches of a North Korean terrorist bent on our complete annihilation, Banning has been reinstated as not only a member of the Secret Service, but he’s back on his friend and President’s personal detail.

In the sequel, the two, travel to London to attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Terrorists come of the woodwork, seeking to capitalize on this confluence of world leaders.

This is only the first little teaser, but it would appear that President Asher doesn’t have to play the damsel in distress in this one, and gets to assist Banning with the world-saving. Call me crazy, but I like the on-the-nose use of “London Bridge is Falling Down” underneath it.

Radha Mitchell is back as Banning’s wife Leah. Maybe he’ll take her along for that long-delayed honeymoon. (A little snogging would be nice, Butler. Throw your distaff fans a bone.) My guess is that the other returning players, including Head of the Secret Service, Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett), Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), Secretary of Defense McMillan (Melisso Leo)NSA Deputy Director Ray Monroe (Sean O’Bryan) and even blowhard General Clegg (Robert Forster) are probably all left at home manning the switches.

The sequel to the worldwide smash hit Olympus Has Fallen begins in London, where the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances. His funeral is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. Only three people have any hope of stopping it: the President of the United States, his formidable secret service head (Gerard Butler), and an English MI-6 agent who rightly trusts no one.

Directed by Babak Najafi ( Easy Money II: Hard to Kill, “Banshee”), written by Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger (who penned the original) and Christian Gudegast (A Man Apart, Den of Thieves**) with Chad St. John, the sequel also stars Charlotte Riley, Colin Salmon,  Patrick Kennedy, Shivani Ghai, Mehdi Dehbi and Andrew Pleavin*** and will be released on January 22, 2016.

More will surely follow.

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

*I know, I know. The rule is “beware the films of January” – but I’ve also said January is not the wasteland it used to be. I’m holding onto a kernel of hope. It’s Gerard Butler after all. I’m nothing if not loyal. I’m more perturbed by the fact that this film’s date was usurped by the Point Break remake.

**Den of Thieves is in pre-production and also stars Gerard Butler. I have to wonder whether or not it’s in jeopardy, like the oft-rescheduled Hunter Killer, due to Relativity’s financial woes.

***3rd time Pleavin will have appeared with Butler, following the made-for-television mini-series “Attila” and then 300

London Has Fallen Finally Has a Director! – edited

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, teaser, Gerard Butler

1st teaser artwork for London Has Fallen

I have no idea how to feel about this.

The good news is that four months after the announcement that Olympus Has Fallen was getting a sequel, with the catchy title London Has Fallen, which one would think would be a HUGE clue as to the plot line, Millennium has finally signed a director for the project.

The bad news is that his name is NOT Antoine Fuqua. I had been convinced that the reason the director of the original had not signed on for the sequel yet was that he was holding out for more money. After all not only was OHF a huge box office hit, but he’s got The Equalizer (with his Training Day star, Denzel Washington) in the can, a film with such high expectations a sequel to THAT film has already been green-lit. But it seems that Fuqua is moving ahead with his passion project Southpaw, with Jake Gyllenhaal. Or maybe the producers didn’t meet his price.

Either way, London Has Fallen will now be helmed by Fredrik Bond, a director of music videos with one other feature to his credit, the festival favorite (and uber-indie) The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, with Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood and Mads Mikkelsen. (And they weren’t even action &/or violence-laden heavy metal videos. We’re talking Moby.)

Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. Maybe Melissa Leo recommended him, assuming she’s coming back for LHF (hey, she didn’t die in OHF), since she’s in TNDoCC as well.

This actually doesn’t disturb me as much as the fact that Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt’s script has been rewritten by Christian Gudegast. One of the reasons I was ready to buy a ticket to this sequel, which in my humble opinion, with the rare exception of films like Jaws and The Godfather, are generally not a good idea, was that the husband & wife team responsible for the first film was back on board for the second. Again, just my humble opinion, but that their script is being redone by a writer whose biggest claim to fame is the Vin Diesel vehicle, A Man Apart does not inspire confidence. Although in all fairness, it might be the best Vin Diesel vehicle. But having said that, need I say more? (More proof that all roads lead to Gerard Butler – A Man Apart was directed by F. Gary Gray who directed Law Abiding Citizen. Just a bit of trivia.)

As it stands now, the only things London Has Fallen will have in common with Olympus Has Fallen will be its stars Gerard Butler (who will again produce) as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Asher and Morgan Freeman as Speaker of the House Trumbull.

The plot has them in London to attend the British Prime Minister’s funeral. Of course some brain-trust with an evil bent thinks that they can use this occasion to kill all of the world’s leaders and “unleash a terrifying vision of the future”. Of course. This premise is no more preposterous than that of Olympus Has Fallen, which I believe I’m on record as having enjoyed enormously. So, at least on that score, my disbelief is still safely suspended…for now.

London Has Fallen has a release date of October 2nd, 2015 and production is scheduled to begin in October. Butler is supposed to be in Louisiana in October to film Geostorm for Dean Devlin. Millennium is based in Louisiana, so maybe it’s possible. (Hey, London is expensive.) More to come.

**Edited to add: London IS expensive so London Has Fallen will, if the sets being constructed are any indication, be filmed in Bulgaria.  Production may still begin in October, but filming is set to begin in December. (Hopefully indoors.)  I knew that.

So, what do you think of the latest development? Does the selection of this particular director have any influence on your interest in London Has Fallen?

Dynamo vs Victory: A Cinematic Soccer Shoot-Out in the Works?

Gerard Butler, Soccer Aid, UNICEF, movie, photo, Dynamo, Victory

Soccer Aid 2012 for UNICEF where England vs The Rest of the World

My apologies for calling it soccer, but not for nothin’, if Dynamo is still a go (hey, that rhymed!), then they’d probably better get on it.
Way back in October of 2012, it was announced that Gerard Butler was set to star in Dynamo, based on the true story of a football (soccer) game that took place between an occupied Ukrainian soccer team and their Nazi captors during World War II. Butler would play Nikolai Trusevich, the all-star goalie who served as a cornerstone and leader for his team, and ultimately inspired the entire battered city of Kiev, Ukraine.

To stem a rising tide of resistance and establish Aryan superiority, the Nazi’s set up a match pitting the starving Ukrainians against a ‘super team’ of German players that to this day is still known as “The Death Match”.

Dynamo is based on the novel “Dynamo: Defending The Honour Of Kiev” by Andy Dougan, with a screenplay by Eli Richbourg. A director had never been announced  (given Richbourg’s long association as asst. director to Joel Schumacher, I have to wonder if the latter isn’t or wasn’t in the mix), but Riviera Pictures, Beau Flynn of FlynnPictureCo., and Jeremy Garelick were already in place to produce, along with Pathé, which would distribute the film worldwide. That was a lot of the requisite puzzle pieces in place…and then nothing. It was supposed to shoot in Europe in 2013. Obviously, that did not happen.  In December 2012 and early January 2013, during promotion for Playing for Keeps, Butler was still talking about Dynamo, although he did make it sound like it would film in the distant future. After all, he’d just made his second film as a soccer player (after 2005’s Miracle Match aka The Game of Their Lives).

So, what’s the story? Has the future come and gone as well? I have no answers.
Some months ago there was talk that director Doug Liman was interested in remaking John Huston’s 1981 film, Victory, which starred Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Pelé. It is also based on Trusevich’s story, although is not a faithful adaptation. Now, thanks to the Hollywood Reporter, we have confirmation that Gavin O’Connor, writer/director of Warrior, is writing the script. Producers attached are Bernie Goldmann and Gianni Nunnari as well as Warner Brothers exec.’s Jon Berg and Racheline Benveniste.

Liman’s back on the action-adventure A-list after Edge of Tomorrow (okay, few – in the US – have seen it, but the reviews have been stellar) so this could get fast tracked, especially if the suddenly omnipresent Tom Hardy is truly attached to star.

It could be down to World Cup Mania, but this is not the first time, by any stretch, that there have been two, or more, films in development that revolve around the same subject matter. Of course, sports of all varieties are good film fodder, especially when you tack on a good human-interest angle.
Just on paper, there are a lot of things to recommend either one of these projects, but all things being equal, the first one off the starting block will probably fare better than any others. This is something to which Gerard Butler can certainly attest, given the fact that Olympus Has Fallen is getting a sequel, while White House Down will become a minor blip on Channing Tatum’s resume.
I have not heard that Dynamo is a no-go, so does that mean it’s still in the works? Having already seen Victory, which I enjoyed, I’d like to see a version of the real story. As of this moment, it’s still a “50/50 ball”*, but it won’t be for long. A red card could be looming.

Your thoughts? Which film piques your interest: Dynamo? Victory? None of the above?

 

*50/50 ball – Just what it sounds like. A loose ball as near to one team as it is to the opposing team, allowing both an equal chance of controlling it.

It’s Summer, Let’s Get Silly with Sly! Watch the Expendables 3 Trailer!

Expendables 3, movie, Sylvester Stallone,  poster

First, let’s all agree that The Expendables was much more fun than it had any right to be. So naturally, that begot Expendables 2, because if it’s good, more is better, right? Well, no not necessarily. But the sequel was mindless fun to munch popcorn by, and the producers are smart enough to release this nonsense in the “Dog Days” of August when we’re all so beaten down by the heat (and we’ve seen everything else), that it doesn’t matter as long as the theater is air-conditioned.
In that vein, and because both 1 and 2 made stacks of cash, Sylvester Stallone and company are back for “one last ride” in Expendables 3. (Yeah right. We’ll see how much this one makes before we believe it’s the “last”.) They do have a few things going for them with this installment, not the least of which is a script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedickt, the duo responsible for Olympus Has Fallen (and its in-pre-production sequel, London Has Fallen). So…yeah, there’s that.
This time around Stallone and Jason Statham, along with three-peaters Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sort of – he was ‘uncredited’ in the first one), drag along Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Kellan Lutz, Wesley Snipes, Robert Davi, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey (making her film debut), welter-weight boxing champ Victor Ortiz (making HIS) and…Kelsey Grammer. Wait…what? I enjoy Gibson’s level of crazy (at least on screen where it belongs – he’s getting help for the rest of it) and lords knows Snipes needs the money, but…hmmm…one of these things is not like the other…
Oh well. Peep this short teaser, with its electrified version of “The Colonel Bogey March”:

Still here? Check out this one set to Billy Squire’s “The Stroke” (Bit of trivia: I didn’t think it was actually Billy Squire. I thought it was probably a cover by a Warrant-wanna be or something, but it is in fact an unreleased remix of the song by Squire. Phew!):

Finally, we get a full-length trailer:

Okay, okay, UNCLE! I give. The big screen has suffered from a decided lack of The Stath and his manly muscled head of late and this just looks too silly to pass up. So, I’m in. For a matinee. But then I’m done. Seriously…

The final game begins 14 August in the UK and August 15 in the  US.

Gerard Butler Set to Keep London Bridge From Falling Down…Maybe

Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, bromance, movie, Olympus Has Fallen

via imdb

Now that Olympus has been reduced to rubble, Gerard Butler and company are taking their show on the road. It’s just been announced that a sequel, London Has Fallen, is scheduled to begin shooting in Old Blighty next spring.

No director has yet been named, but Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger will again write the screenplay. Millennium Films is financing and will produce along with Alan Siegel and Butler’s G-Base (formerly known as Evil Twins), as well as Mark Gill, Matt O’Toole and Danny Lerner, while Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Christine Crow will exec. produce. Focus Features (which swallowed up Film District, which distributed the original) will release the film in the US.

Butler, along with Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell and Angela Bassett are all reportedly on board. (So why isn’t OHF director Antoine Fuqua…yet? After the lovefest between Butler and Fuqua during press for OHF, there can’t be any bad blood there…can there? Surely not between any of the other producers? Olympus Has Fallen brought in $161m worldwide from a budget of approx. $40m. So, that can’t be it. Is he holding out for more money? I suppose we’ll soon find out.)

Okay, those are facts (along with a little conjecture). I just haven’t decided how I feel about this. On the one hand, it means that Olympus Has Fallen was a big enough hit that, according to the suits and bean counters, it merits a sequel. On the other hand, does it actually merit a sequel? Few films, in my humble opinion, do. Dollars (rubles, pounds, euros whatever) in the till should not be the only criterion. Is there more story to tell? The answer to that questions would appear to be no, since the plot sounds like it’s going to be a rehash, set in a different city:

There’s a  plot to strike the city of London during the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Only the President Of The United States (Eckhart), his secret service head (Butler) and an English MI6 agent can save the day.

This could be good if that agent is James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. Hey, I can dream. As long as it’s not Johnny English, there’s hope.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Would I like to see more of Special Agent Mike Banning as he wrecks havoc from Piccadilly to Mayfair, all the while gruffly spouting humorous one-liners and kicking terrorist ass? Of course I would. (Especially if it will mean another press tour featuring my new favorite bromance, Butler and Eckhart.) However, that’s not to say that I should. Sequels, with very few exceptions, do not live up to their originals, nor the hype with which they are inevitably surrounded in order to sell you a ticket.

Butler was smart enough to take a pass on the 300 sequel, but that was before his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year…or couple of years. I need not devote any more space to a defense of his past projects. The fact is, prior to OHF, his last couple of movies were box office duds, regardless of their respective actual merits. And we all know the saying, “You’re only as good as your last picture”. **

If all goes according to plan, London Has Fallen will go before the cameras on May 5, 2014. (So I’m assuming they’re looking at a 2015 release). Watch this space for updates.

Source: ScreenDaily.com

**Actress Marie Dressler upon acceptance of her Academy Award for Best Actress for Min and Bill, 1930

Worth Another Look: Olympus Has Fallen on DVD

Olympus Has Fallen, movie, dvd, blu-ray, Gerard Butler

As you’re by now aware, movie audiences were treated to not one, but two, White House under siege movies this year. The wildest (and yet more serious-minded), the one people actually went to see, Olympus Has Fallen, has just come out on dvd. Now we’ll all be able to watch Gerard Butler and Dylan McDermott go mano y mano over and over again til our {heart’s} content and in the privacy of our own homes. Woot!

Since my initial review, first posted in March, this movie has gone on to exceed expectations and OVER-perform in nearly all of the markets in which it was released, world-wide. There’s no question it benefitted from being first out of the gate, but as of this writing, it’s the number one dvd rental in North America (per imdb) and has been the number one movie rental in American hotel rooms two months (the only 2 in which it was available) in a row. (I’m presuming they aren’t counting porn, but maybe they are!)  It’s not rocket surgery, but it is a LOT of fun.  Just the thing to watch while sitting on the couch in your jammies with a big bowl of popcorn and a couple of adult bevvies. In any case, I thought this would be a good time to revisit my thoughts on the subject. What follows is a slightly abbreviated version of my review, ending with a listing of the special features on the home editions:

Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen is probably the wildest ride you’ll take since the last time you rode Space Mountain, the Cyclone or even Kingda Ka*.  Watching this action adventure is the equivalent of a turn on one of the world’s scariest roller coasters with a release of adrenaline and dopamine that makes us feel frightened, shocked,  giddy and intensely alive.  Whenever I get off a rollercoaster, I want to get right back on. I felt the same way after I saw this movie.

Gerard Butler stars, in what has been described as “Die Hard in the White House”. It follows a down-on-his-luck ex-Secret Service (Butler) agent who becomes America’s only hope when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is taken over by terrorists.

When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger crisis.

…We’ve all heard the term “edge-of-your-seat” thriller. If you’ve never actually been on the edge of your seat while watching a movie and thought that was just so much hyperbole, that is exactly the place from which you will watch most of this movie.

If you’ve seen a trailer or clip, you know that the relative calm with which the movie opens, a picture of a happy family that just happens to include the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart, looking extremely Presidential, I might add), won’t last. It’s like the clickety-clacking of that rollercoaster slowly making its way up to the first peak and then WOO HOO!

We get a brief respite while we and the characters on screen recover. When the action starts again, it really starts and seldom lets up for the next hour and a half.

Director Fuqua’s pacing and the talented cast keep us from looking too closely for the zippers up the backs of the monsters. The plot moves so fast and the actors sell it so well, that we don’t have time to look for holes. (… when you’re biting your nails and dodging bullets you don’t have a moment to think about whether or not  “that would really happen”.)

If you think the sight of the Washington monument moments after a plane hits it looks familiar, it’s supposed to. It evokes one of the defining moments of our country’s recent history for a reason. It’s designed to deliberately stir our patriotism precisely so that when the shooting stops, you understand the journey that the people who inhabit the United States on screen under President Asher, have just taken.  It neatly sidesteps jingoism by giving the bad guy (Rick Yune as Kang) a cause, but does not delve too deeply into his back story except to let us know that however just that cause may or may not be and how cool, calculated and brilliant he may appear, he took the train to Crazy Town long ago.

It avoids predictability by resolving one subplot in particular quickly, without dragging it out into cliché and also by not treating the hostages as “damsels-in-distress” waiting to be saved, but as tough patriots determined to go down swinging if that is their fate. Again, I have to stress the brilliant casting.

Without an actress of Oscar winner Melissa Leo’s caliber, we might not buy a female Secretary of Defense or what she undergoes in that bunker. The same could be said of Angela Bassett’s Director of the Secret Service. Her part was originally written for a man, since there has never been a female director. She is completely plausible and despite the fact that we never learn a single thing about her background, with Bassett’s performance we can understand how tough Lynn Jacobs would have to be to even be considered for the job.

Can we talk about Gerard Butler now? I think readers of this blog know that I’m kinda partial and I’m not one who sees anything wrong with the fact that he mixes genres and continues to try new things, but if he was going to return to action/adventure, this was the movie to do it with.  Butler is more than credible as Agent Mike Banning, the head of the President’s protection detail, mentor and guardian of the President’s son, as well as Agent-in-Exile Mike Banning, with visible, barely contained anxiety stemming from his role in the death of the First Lady and the desire to get back “in”. G does “damaged hero” very well and this movie lets him play to those strengths. We absolutely buy him as an ex-special forces commando able to thin the enemy’s numbers single-handedly. We especially buy his banter. The many one-liners he gets off are hilarious and speak volumes about the man and how he handles himself under pressure. Credit the writers, Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, as well as Butler.

Do I even have to tell you that Morgan Freeman was completely believable as the Speaker of the House who becomes the Acting President? We’ve seen him in charge before and we always believe him. In fact, there are factions in this country who think he’s so good at acting like the president that they think he should run for the real job. (Mr. Freeman, I’ve read, takes that as a compliment to his abilities, but has no plans to run.) Freeman’s very casting is almost a spoiler.  How could everything not turn out okay on his watch?

Speaking of spoilers, I’m trying not to divulge anything that is best left for viewing, for instance there are more than a few of those one liners of Banning’s that I’d love to quote, but I will refrain. I can tell you that the fight scenes you may have seen, as well as the battles and carnage, are but the tip of the iceberg. I am serious when I tell you this movie doesn’t let up until the last two minutes of screen time. I can also tell you that the audiences with whom I saw the movie laughed, whooped and gasped at appropriate times and then erupted into cheers and applause when the bad guy finally bought it.

There will be people for whom this movie will be too much. Too much noise, too much blood, too much suspended disbelief, just too much. (For me there was a little too much kettle drum in the score.) This is a hard-R action movie. Lots of shit gets “blowed up” and the F-word is carpet bombed.  It won’t please everyone, nor should it. Those that like this sort of thing will love it.

Olympus Has Fallen, dvd, movie, blu-ray, Gerard Butler, Radha Mitchell

courtesy OHF Facebook page

The only nit I’ll pick was that I think there was probably originally more to Mike Banning’s relationship with his wife that didn’t make the final cut. Radha Mitchell is very good in her limited screen time and both she and Butler do convey a sense of the state of their relationship with very little, but I do believe we were denied a love scene. Just puttin’ that out there.

Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser and Radha Mitchell, is out on dvd and blu-ray in the US now, Australia tomorrow, August 21, and on 2nd September in the UK.

DVD Bonus Features (basically there are none. Boooo)

-Ultraviolet digital copy

BLU-Ray on the other hand, has a lot of Bonus Features:

-Bloopers

(Check out a partial reel at the link, courtesy AccessHollywood )

-The Epic Ensemble: A look at Antoine Fuqua’s direction and an overview of the main cast’s work.

-Under Surveillance: The Making of Olympus Has Fallen: Cast and crew examine the core story, the process of fleshing out the idea, Antoine Fuqua’s vision of the film as a “cautionary tale,” the plausibility of the plot, technical consultation, creating a conceivably real assault on the White House, shooting in Louisiana standing in for Washington, set construction, and the role of both digital and practical effects.

-Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence: A detailed, inside look at digitally creating one of the film’s biggest action pieces.

-Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists: An examination of Fuqua’s insistence on reality and choreographing the action scenes.

-Creating the Action: VFX and Design: A broader examination of the film’s visual effects.

Previews: Additional Sony titles.

DVD Copy.

UV Digital Copy.

*The tallest coaster in the World, fastest in North America. 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and catapulting you 45 stories into the sky.  Not for love nor money.

Will The Raven Fly Over Olympus?

Gerard Butler, Kable, Gamer, Lionsgate, The Raven

photo courtesy Lionsgate

Gerard Butler is, according to The Hollywood Reporter, in talks to take the lead of a sci-fi action adventure called The Raven. (Not to be confused with either the Edgar Allan Poe poem or the 2012 movie it supposedly inspired. That film was the cinematic equivalent of a night with a few too many martinis. It was fun at the time then you wake up with a headache and vow to never do it again. Poor John Cusack.)

This new film, to be directed by Peruvian Ricardo de Montreuil, will be based on his own 2010 short of the same name. The short was made for $5000 over the course of a couple of weekends and became a YouTube sensation. The feature version been in development since then. Back in July of 2010 it was announced that Mark Wahlberg would star and produce for Universal Pictures. The last we heard of it, Liam Hemsworth was attached to star, but Wahlberg would stay on to produce.

Ricardo de Montreuil, The Raven, Gerard Butler

photo via imdb

The short, which you can see below, is about a young man, Chris Black aka The Raven, with telekinetic powers being chased around downtown Los Angeles by assorted police drones and mecha, while a giant police ship hovers above.

At first blush, swapping Liam Hemsworth for Gerard Butler might not make much sense. I can, however, think of a few reasons why the producers would think it could work, aside from the fact that Liam Hemsworth has in no way proven he can carry a movie.

First, we really don’t need another “teens in peril in a dystopian future” movie (see: The Hunger GamesThe Host etc) or even “teens at the mercy of their own powers” movie (see: the Twilight series- if you must, City of Bones, Beautiful Creatures, Chronicle).

And second, making the hero older increases the likelihood that The Raven will be R-rated.

Traditionally, those making action movies walk the line between PG-13 and R, trying to stay on the side of the former, the logic being a lower rating means more butts in seats. The problem with that is two-fold. Not only do adults not want to share every cinematic experience with their tweens, but that line has been blurred and obscured so badly, the envelope has been pushed, (use whatever metaphor you like) to the point that the inevitable backlash has begun. Why is the massive amount of violence shown to those under seventeen so more acceptable than sex? How much is too much? (For my own part, I’d like to know who the arbiters of these things really are.  Who makes up the governing body known as the Motion Picture Association of America and what are the hows and whys of their decisions? The head of this august body is former Conn. Senator Christopher Dodd, more than likely chosen for his history of “bringing much-needed attention to children’s and education issues”.)

As usual I digress. My point is that an R-rating increases the probability of some no-holds barred action, sci-fi and otherwise, as well as the possibility of a sweaty, “hurry up before they find us” love scene. (I am ever hopeful.). This would seem to be less of a financial risk with reference to The Raven and the possible casting of Gerard Butler as he is just coming off the (surprise) success of another hard R action movie, Olympus Has Fallen, not to mention his greatest box office success to date, 300, was also rated R, thereby giving him a proven track record.

So if Butler is indeed cast, Michael Gilio, who wrote the script (Justin Marks did an earlier draft) will have to do a little tweaking since it’s thought that cameras will likely roll on the film later this year.

Wahlberg and Steve Levinson, who brought the project to the attention of Universal, will produce alongside Gold Circle’s Paul Brooks.

The premise of The Raven (which will more than likely get a name change before all is said and done) has potential.  This could be a good move on Butler’s part. It’s territory he should be comfortable with and at the same time, there is the possibility of covering new ground. I’m not providing any startling insight when I say that it will all depend on the script.

Butler had to have been as disillusioned as anyone with the box office failure of the last few films prior to OHF. The critical drubbing he’s probably used to, but it’s easier to shrug that off when you’re raking in the dough. As I’ve previously pointed out, love ’em or hate ’em, Butler’s movies usually make money. No actor sets out to make a “bad” movie. Critical response to Olympus Has Fallen was split, but the box office was decisive. (Another thing I’ve talked about before is how tirelessly Butler supports his projects (and how well Olympus Has Fallen made use of social media), and how often his enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be merited. While I’m all for an actor breaking out of their comfort zones (note to Gerard Butler: I will continue to repeat this until it somehow makes its way to you: You really, really need to get a meeting with Matthew McConaughey’s agent. At the very least, there should be some heart-to-hearts on the set of Thunder Run) and he has a project that would seem to have some gravitas on his docket with Dynamo, that one’s not due for a couple of years. So even if The Raven plants him in familiar territory (re: Gamer), if it’s a hit, no one will care.

*****

In other, more disturbing news, the director of that other The Raven, James McTeigue, is set to helm an “action thriller” called Survivor with Clive Owen and….Katherine Heigl. What is this fuckery?  With all due respect to Ms. Heigl, I don’t think she’s in Clive Owen’s league. At all. Are they planning to change it to an “action comedy”? That’s the only way her casting makes sense, but then it doesn’t explain Owen.  See the above with reference to comfort zones, but I’m skeptical about this.  It’s being shopped in Cannes. We’ll see.