Luc Besson

Relativity Media

Hollywood remakes of foreign films are here to stay because they perform a great service to illiterate and lazy Americans nationwide, but their track record is dubious at best. This is especially true for remakes of action films for two commonly recurring reasons. Hollywood can rarely compete with the action (usually due to pesky things like insurance), and they often over-think the script in an effort to make it “smarter.” Brick Mansions, the English language redo of the 2004 French hit District B13, thankfully makes no attempt to beef up the film’s intelligence — it’s more likely that they dumbed it down actually. But it will surprise no one that the action is subpar shenanigans created and destroyed entirely through rapid-fire editing. Damien (Paul Walker, replacing the far more limber and athletically talented Cyril Raffaelli) is a cop fighting the good fight in 2018 Detroit. The city previously walled off the less gentrified neighborhood of Brick Mansions in an effort to separate the urban riffraff from the more upstanding citizens, but when Damien is sent in on an undercover mission he discovers a truth far more explosive than the bomb he’s supposed to defuse. That’s right. Minorities are people too.

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Lucy

Is “lower tummy” a precise medical term? I’m fairly certain it’s not. But then, I’m also fairly certain that a lower tummy full of super-drugs wouldn’t cause Scarlett Johansson to start using more than 10% of her brain, (mostly because the “we only use 10% of our brains” thing is just one of those urban brain myths). And even if it did, a faster brain probably wouldn’t give her the ability to stop time or magically switch from blonde to brunette. Ok, real talk is out of the way. Now for fun talk; as in, Lucy looks like a giant heap of it. Directed by Luc Besson, the film is more or less the exact same movie as Limitless, from a couple years back. Protagonist (Johansson vs. Bradley Cooper), is exposed to a miracle drug that unlocks the mythical 90% of our brains that’s just extra skull weight. Protagonist is soon on the run from various unsavory types, all of whom want to both destroy him/her and gain access to the sexy new designer drug that can make someone a polyglot genius kung-fu master.

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3 Days to Kill Review

14 years ago McG successfully transitioned from music videos to film with Charlie’s Angels, but his films that followed varied in quality. For the most part, he’s tagged with the less-than-flattering title of a “hack.” A director only invested in a buck wouldn’t have made We Are Marshall, but there’s no denying he generally aims for a broad audience. Sometimes that means he make the most obvious choices instead of the most inspired, but the same cannot be said for his newest movie, 3 Days to Kill. Screenwriters Luc Besson and Adi Hasak have finally given McG a well-rounded script to bring to life. 3 Days to Kill is mostly lean, often funny, and its central character, Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), is a respectable addition to Besson’s long line of bad-asses. Ethan is a top operative ready to quit so he can have more time with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and his estranged daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfield). His plans hit a snag though when he discovers he’s dying. The only way he can buy more time is by taking an experimental drug, offered by Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), in exchange for his services. So, yes, this is another “one last job” and father-daughter issues action movie.

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Ed Skrein

Sorry folks, no more greased up Jason Statham getting punchy for you…at least so far a the Transporter franchise is concerned. What you and The Stath do on your own time is your business. As recently reported, Luc Besson announced a deal for three additional Transporter films during last year’s Cannes Film Festival, all sans Statham, being that these new entries will be a franchise reboot. The latest incarnation of stunt driving martial arts tough guy Frank Martin will be thirty-year-old Game of Thrones alumnus Ed Skrein, who played Daenerys Targaryen ally Daario Naharis in HBO’s ratings juggernaut. The Englishman doesn’t have a terribly deep resume, but the full faith of Besson and EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert, who told Variety, “We searched everywhere to find a fresh face who had the potential to become an action movie star, and we’ve found the right match with Ed Skrein, who is not only a great actor, but also has enough charisma and physical stamina to play Frank Martin with brio.”

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Paul Walker

Paul Walker’s last movie, Brick Mansions, is scheduled for an April 25, 2015 release according to Relativity Media. Earth to Echo, Relativity’s sci-fi adventure collaboration with Disney was originally pegged to this date, but has now been rescheduled for a July 2, 2014 arrival in theaters. Brick Mansions features Walker and Wu-Tang Clan founding member RZA, along with Parkour dynamo David Belle and Catalina Denis. An English-language remake of EuropaCorp’s French actioner Banlieue 13 (District B13), the story follows Walker as an undercover police officer who ventures into the dystopian urban wilds of a future Detroit, tasked with the mission of disarming a neutron bomb set to detonate in a tenement named Brick Mansions.

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3 days

As the old saying goes: the more Kevin Costner, the better. At least that’s what the saying should be, as Costner brought a ton of heart to Man of Steel and will soon appear in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It’s unclear whether he will get to smack some thugs around in that movie, and if that’s not the case, he’ll have the opportunity to do so a month later in 3 Days to Kill. Costner plays Ethan Runner, a dying ex-secret service agent who, in service for one last mast mission, is handed an experimental drug that’ll give him more time with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Since the movie is directed by McG and co-written by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), it’s not as serious as it sounds. The first trailer for the film gives a clear sense of what they’re aiming for. Take a look:

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Scenes We Love: The Fifth Element

It sometimes seems like Luc Besson‘s name is attached to everything these days. Hardly a week goes by without seeing some new action flick- a Taken here, a Columbiana there- with Besson attached as a producer or writer, but as a director he’s far less prolific. He’s directed a slew of Arthur movies, based off a series of children’s books he also wrote himself, but besides that, the words “directed by Luc Besson” are scarcely seen. So this weekend, which sees the release of the Besson-directed The Family, is a happy occasion (unless you’re Jack Giroux, our own critic who didn’t particularly care for the film). There’s no better time to take a fond look back at one of Besson’s most ambitious and, not coincidentally, most bizarre films: 1997′s The Fifth Element.

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Robert De Niro in The Family

Luc Besson has been missing in action when it comes to action films for over a decade now. Of course he has written and produced a number of aesthetically pleasing shoot’m ups over the past few years — Taken, Transporter, and Lockout – but his behind-the-camera work has involved three animated/live-action hybrids, a bio pic, and two fantasy-type films. And precisely zero of them ever caught fire with us stateside. With his new film, The Family, it looked like Besson was returning to his playful criminal roots. Unfortunately though, the finished product isn’t that film as it lacks the pace, laughs, and coolness the defined his earlier work. This isn’t attempting to be Leon as it instead takes aim towards broad comedy, but even those outlandish laughs fall apart because we just don’t give a damn about the titular family.

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contest the family

We can only imagine what Robert De Niro is saying to the man on the ground in the above image, but why do that when we can have you imagine it for us? In addition to simply having fun putting words into De Niro’s mouth you’ll also be entered into a contest for the chance to win a Blu-ray bundle featuring Gangs of New York, The Godfather Collection, Goodfellas, Heat, and Scarface. All you have to do to win is hit the comments section below and offer up your best caption by Sunday (9/15). From there, we’ll choose a random winner (or the one that makes us laugh the loudest) to receive this murder and “f*ck”-filled Blu-ray prize pack. It’s that simple. Winners must live in the U.S. No P.O. Boxes. OK? And who do we have to thank for this bounty? Luc Besson and Relativity Media of course! Can you believe The Family is his first feature to get a wide release in the U.S. since 1999′s The Messenger? He’s made six other movies since then, but while films about angels, gnomes, a female Indiana Jones, and Burma’s troubles never got the chance to reach an audience here it seems all Besson had to do was make an action-comedy about a mob family enduring witness relocation in rural France. Add De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, and you have yourself a winner! Hopefully. The Family hits theaters this Friday. Check out the trailer and official synopsis below.

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news_taken2

To be fair, they’ll probably pay him with one giant paycheck instead of three because Hollywood accounting is nothing if not efficient, but according to Deadline Hollywood, Fox is paying Liam Neeson $20M to return for Taken 3. So this is going to happen. Taken 2 writer Robert Mark Kamen and franchise mastermind Luc Besson are already working on the script, but there’s no director yet, and Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen haven’t signed on yet either. Obviously, Neeson was the linchpin, but even if he hadn’t agreed to be in it, it’s not hard to imagine them Tokyo Drifting into a third movie without Bryan Mills (who has incredibly bad luck with kidnappings). Lucas Black probably has a set of skills, too. I have no issue with there being a third entry — no logical problem with yet another abduction under Mills’ nose, no concern for more mindless action, no fear for diminishing returns. My only real question is when they’ll mash this up with Schindler’s List. The people are demanding it, Fox. Why won’t you listen?

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Robert De Niro in The Family

If we’re honest, it’s been a while since Luc Besson has directed any sort of high profile film. Sure, he’s written and produced 5 out of every 10 interesting action films in the last ten years, including the Transporter, Taken and District B13 franchises. But what has he actually directed? The third movie in the Arthur and the Invisibles franchise? I didn’t know there was a second one. The Lady starring Michelle Yeoh. He won an International Human Rights Award from the Cinema for Peace Awards for that one. It’s not exactly The Professional: Part Deux. All of this makes his latest film, The Family, much more interesting. He’s written and directed a mob action movie starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer. Hell. Yes. The only odd part: it’s being billed as a comedy.

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You know what, Robert Mark Kamen? Good for you. On the heels of Taken 2‘s blockbuster opening (the film made over $49m in its first weekend, and currently clocks in at a hefty $122m worldwide as of this posting), screenwriter Kamen (who also penned the first film) sat down with Hollywood.com‘s own (and our former) Matt Patches to talk about all sorts of stuff. Well, mainly money and sequels. The interview is a great read on its own (seriously, at one point, Kamen shares that he and Luc Besson call each other “Shrek” and “Donkey,” which could be a solid base for some really compelling fan fiction), but for the purpose of this item, we’ll just focus on what Kamen had to say about the possibility of Taken 3. Read: a strong possibility.

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Taken 2

Pierre Morel’s 2009 hit Taken was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise on several levels. It turned the 56-year-old Liam Neeson into a legitimate action star, it re-framed the idea of January being a dumping ground for Hollywood leftovers and best of all, it was damn entertaining in its ridiculous simplicity. Its box office take guaranteed a sequel, but what should have been a sure thing was instead kneecapped by co-writer/franchise-creator Luc Besson‘s decision to hand the reins to the awesomely named  but otherwise utterly incompetent Olivier Megaton. In the sequel, ex-CIA agent and current bodyguard Bryan Mills (Neeson) finally has the relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) that he’s so desperately craved. An upcoming protection gig in Istanbul seems like the ideal locale for a “family” vacation so the ladies surprise Mills after his assignment for some Turkish R&R. But they’re not the only members of the surprise committee.

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That Kevin Costner comeback that kicked off last summer with the rumor that the actor would co-star in Django Unchained (though that proved fruitless), which then carried over to his casting in Man of Steel, an Emmy-winning role in Hatfields & McCoys, and a major part in Jack Ryan just continues to reap huge benefits for the star. As had been rumored back in August, Costner has now officially signed on to star in director McG‘s next film, “a gripping action tale” that’s been penned by Luc Besson and Adi Hasak. Currently untitled, the film has previously been referred to as Three Days to Kill, though perhaps everyone decided that moniker was just a touch too spoilery and has decided to lay off on letting everyone know how long Costner will have to, you know, kill someone. A press release from Relativity Media describes the film as such: “the thriller explores a story about Secret Service Agent Ethan Runner who discovers he’s dying and decides to retire in order to reconnect with his estranged family. But when the Secret Service offers him access to an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment, he soon finds himself trying to juggle his family, his mission, and the drug’s hallucinatory side-effects.” Wait, there are drugs involved in this? Is this The Bourne Legacy fan fiction? You can read the full release after the break, if you’re just that into Kevin Costner news.

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Kevin Costner, movie star. No, it is not 1994. It is still 2012 and Costner has finally shrugged off the twin failures of both Waterworld and The Postman to face what can only be seen as one hell of a career upswing. Deadline Hollywood reports (via /Film) that Costner is being eyed for both that Chris Pine-starring Jack Ryan  franchise reboot and the Luc Besson-penned Three Days to Kill, big action roles that would join his expanding schedule, which might also include a starring role in the Disney sports drama, McFarland (though reports are now emerging that Costner, who was considered set for the film, may be out). Costner has already been offered a “co-lead role” in Kenneth Branagh‘s Jack Ryan film, a role that is a “new creation, but a close cousin to the role of CIA bigwig Admiral Greer that was played by James Earl Jones in Patriot Games.” The new character would set Costner as Ryan’s mentor and that, coupled with the tantalizing “co-lead” descriptor, make it sound like a very big deal.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – Robert De Niro is going to play a mob boss in a movie. You’re shocked, aren’t you? The star of such mob classics as The Godfather: Part II, The Untouchables, and Goodfellas is now officially signed on for another mob movie – but this one comes with a comedic twist that could suit De Niro’s recent sensibilities (the sort that have steered him to such schlock as Little Fockers). De Niro will lead the cast of Luc Besson‘s Malavita, in which he will play a “notorious” mob boss who, along with his family, is sent to France as part of the witness protection program (France? Really? My Blue Heaven, this is not). Despite their best attempts at a normal life, the family reverts to old habits (or, as the official press release on this project puts it, ” they soon find themselves handling things the ‘family’ way). You know, like killing people and stuff. De Niro will be joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife, Dianna Agron as their daughter, John D’Leo as their son, and Tommy Lee Jones as the poor FBI agent tasked with keeping watch on them.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – in a future America, an important member of the First Family gets trapped in an inventive super-max prison the likes of which we’ve never seen, and the only person who can save them is a sharp-tongued criminal. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Unfortunately, James Mather and Stephen St. Leger‘s Lockout is no Escape from New York, but dammit if Guy Pearce‘s performance doesn’t hit some gleeful Snake Plissken-inspired high notes in the midst of some serious cinematic mess. Mather and St. Leger’s take (which comes from an original idea from co-writer and producer Luc Besson) on the “one man against a mega-prison” moves the action away from not just New York, but Earth itself – setting the majority of Lockout in a super prison in the sky. MS One is the first of its kind, a space prison that uses the unique advantages of its location to isolate its prisoners twofold – not only are they trapped in space, they’re also sunk into a deep stasis that should guarantee that escape is not only impossible, but also unthinkable to their conked-out brains. Unfortunately, as we’re told repeatedly, “some minds just can’t take it,” and the philanthropically-minded Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) has just arrived on MS One to interview some recently awoken prisoners to gauge the effects of their stasis. Emilie also happens to be the President of the United States’ only daughter, a fact that the audience knows from the get-go, even […]

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Guy Pearce in Lock-Out

The teaser trailer for the upcoming Guy Pearce vehicle Lockout (formerly Lock-Out) gave us a glimpse at the rogue charm Pearce has mustered up in the lead role, but it didn’t let us in on much of what the movie is actually about. The new full-length trailer over at IGN gives us a bit more of that Pearce sass, but it also lays out pretty much the whole plot. Some of my favorite movies ever take multiple genres and blend them together. Sometimes blending genres creates a tonally weird mess (Cowboys & Aliens), but when you do it right you create something fresh and new out of used parts (Serenity), and it seems like Lockout has some potential to do the latter.

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Guy Pearce is one of those actors you keep hoping will become a big star. The man’s been in some fantastic films (Memento, LA Confidential, The Proposition) and almost always gives a stellar performance no matter the size of the role or quality of the movie. But for some reason he’s never quite taken off the way he deserves. Not that he’s been hard up for work… he appeared in HBO’s much-lauded miniseries Mildred Pierce earlier this year and per IMDB has twelve upcoming projects in various stages of development including Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Prometheus. But before he stars in the alien movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Alien, he’s heading to a far lower profile region of space. Lock-Out is about a convicted criminal (Pearce) who’s given a singular chance at freedom if he can rescue the President’s daughter from the middle of a space station prison riot. The film is the feature directorial debut of James Mather and Stephen St. Leger who also co-wrote the script with the busiest man in France, Luc Besson, so you know if nothing else there’s going to be some fun, logic-free action. The short description makes it sound like the sequel to Escape From New York we should have gotten instead of the abysmal one we did. Check out the teaser trailer below.

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The American remake of District B13 that we’ve all been clamoring for may be one step closer to reality. Per Deadline Jump River, Paul Walker is in talks to join the remake currently titled Brick Mansions. The script, co-written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (Taken), sticks fairly close to the source material with a nuclear device falling into the hands of a notorious gangster/drug dealer in a dangerous part of inner city Chicago. An undercover detective (Walker) teams up with a local (David Belle) to infiltrate the neighborhood and deactivate the bomb. Parkour ensues. We won’t bother listing the varied reasons why this is a bad idea, well, except for one. I’m no Walker hater. The guy is fine for what he is, but one short rooftop chase in Fast Five doesn’t really automatically qualify him for a parkour film. Granted Belle, who co-starred in both of the French District B13 films, will be the one doing the majority of the stunts, but you know they’re going to have Walker join in the fun… which ultimately means stunt doubles and green screen. If the film does well I think I speak for all of us when I say the sequel should head to Chicago’s Cabrini Green where the parkour boys are called in to neutralize Candyman.

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