McG

mcg shooting 3 days to kill

Imagine a med student with orange dreadlocks down to his ass during the early 1990s. Do you have that horrifying mental image yet? Any takers on who that now-famous man might be? That’s right, it’s Joseph McGinty Nichol from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Like plenty of driven young filmmakers, Nichol one day dropped out of school, packed his things and moved to Hollywood. Without any connections, he pushed his way into the industry with the help of a pizza delivery service. He put a copy of one of his music videos in a pizza box and had it delivered to an executive, who was tickled enough to give it a watch. That box of pizza gave birth to the man we all now know as McG, the director behind Charlie’s Angels, We Are Marshall, Terminator Salvation and his newest film, 3 Days to Kill. Nichol has had that nickname ever since he was a kid. In some ways, it is representative of his career: a little silly, but self-aware and unapologetic. “It’s never been fun to critically praise a ‘McG movie,’” he jokes. “It even begins with my ridiculous name. My name is who I am. My movies seem to further that difficulty. I try for drama, humor and action and yet try to make well-rounded movies.” General audience members could care less about Nichol’s nickname, but it’s turned him into a punching bag on the Internet, for both fanboys and, sometimes, critics.

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3 days to kill 21

One of the first things answered in 3 Days to Kill is that this isn’t in fact a Taken retread. Maybe it’s a parody of the Liam Neeson-starring action movie — self-parody given that both movies are written and produced by Luc Besson — but the tone is surprisingly closer to the delectably cartoonish hitman movie Shoot ‘Em Up mixed with the frustratingly dumb fourth and fifth Die Hard installments. With bits of The Visitor thrown in for pretty much no reason at all. It is a bizarrely stylish yet broadly comic pulp thriller more interested in the familiar trope of an absent father trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter than the spy plot it’s primarily sold on. In playing with genre and narrative expectations the movie becomes extremely silly, maybe intentionally so, but also filled with plot holes and unanswered questions — also maybe intentionally without concern. If Besson does mean to make fun of what he’s been doing with the Taken franchise (and maybe some of his early success with action heroines) the result is quite cheeky but still rather unmemorable considering we’ll still always favor Neeson and his very particular set of skills to Kevin Costner and his overly non-particular talent as the best worst (or worst best) cleaner for the CIA. This may be the kind of movie that doesn’t warrant going over unanswered questions, especially if the filmmakers meant for little thinking on their or our part at all, but below I’ve highlighted […]

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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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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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IntroFirstTimeDir

People don’t just get handed million-dollar blockbusters, nor do studios go door-to-door looking for someone to direct the next Jurassic Park. That’s why the following list of first time directors – while seemingly out of nowhere – certainly had backgrounds directing stuff like music videos or commercials.   Still – they were untested in feature filmmaking, and to the un-obsessed public it would appear that studios simply plucked a dude off the street. Like giving a small child a semi truck, the results were mixed.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Today was basically Godzilla day on the Internet. All sorts of news regarding Legendary Pictures’ reboot of the big green guy’s film series broke, and some of it involves casting. THR broke the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was being looked at to star, but one of their writers, Borys Kit, was then quick to point out that his potential involvement in the film is long dead. Variety writer Justin Kroll then jumped in with the news that a few names that are still possibilities for the project are Henry Cavill, Scoot McNairy, and Caleb Landry Jones. All of this news comes with a special thanks to /Film, who compiled all the chatter into a tight little narrative. Even though things between Gordon-Levitt and Godzilla didn’t work out, don’t let that make you think that he’s going to go an entire week without being attached to a high profile project. In more Gordon-Levitt news, Deadline has word that the in-demand actor has just signed on to play a big role in Robert Rodriguez‘s Sin City sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Apparently he’s going to be playing Johnny, a role that was meant to go to Johnny Depp at one point, and that is said to be a core character in the overlapping parts of the film’s story lines. This comes at the same time as news that Gordon-Levitt’s possible involvement in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to end up happening, which is essential information if you happen to be exhaustively journaling all […]

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s starting to wonder how many times Hugh Jackman can play Wolverine before his sideburns start to stick that way. Hot on the heels of the announcement that the original Professor X and Magneto, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, would be joining Bryan Singer’s X-Men: First Class sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, comes word that yet another actor from the original X-Men trilogy, Hugh Jackman, is also negotiating. This makes sense, of course, because Jackman’s brief cameo in First Class was the first indication we got that Matthew Vaughn’s reboot and Singer’s original films might actually exist in the same universe. Now that Singer has Stewart, McKellen, and Jackman on board, the only other actors he needs to poach from those first X-Men movies is…well, no one. It’s kind of amazing how well those movies cast these three guys and how poorly they cast every single other character. Hopefully this is the end of the colliding of worlds. [THR]

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The Magic Castle

Private clubs for magicians might seem like the silly sort of thing that only exists in the movies, but they’re actually very real, and probably the most famous one is housed in historic Hollywood haunt The Magic Castle. This is the place where Academy of Magical Arts President (also a real thing) Neil Patrick Harris (yep, Doogie) regularly holds private events where the greatest magicians in the world come and perform to a select, invitation-only audience. The building is spooky-looking, full of secrets, and would probably make a great setting for a movie. Or, at least, that’s what Radar Pictures is hoping, because they’ve just hired Andrew Barrer and Gabe Ferrari to write a script set in the location, which McG will then direct. Barrer and Ferrari are no strangers to mystical things, as they’re currently at work writing a big screen treatment of Sabrina the Teenage Witch for Sony. Maybe the research they do there will carry over to writing a movie about a Magic Castle?

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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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What do you do when your first several efforts in the horror genre are quiet successes and your most critically acclaimed feature is delayed more than a year? If you’re director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett you sign with a major studio to adapt a bestselling spy thriller to the big screen. The duo behind A Horrible Way to Die, segments in V/H/S and The ABCs of Death, and next year’s You’re Next have done just that. Per Deadline by way of /film, their next project will be an adaptation of Jon Stock‘s Dead Spy Running for WB. The book is the first in a trilogy about a disgraced MI6 agent named Danny Marchant thought to be a traitor by his own people and the CIA who is forced on the run to prove both his own innocence and his dead father’s. The rights were snapped up on publication back in 2009, and since then various names have been attached to direct including McG, Stephen Gaghan and Jonathan Levine. Wingard and Barrett have come on board with an existing script from Gaghan (and Jamie Moss) that tweaked the novel’s lead character just a little bit. Marchant will no longer be a spy on the run… He’ll be a DJ.

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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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Back in August of last year, Universal Pictures chucked their big-budget Ouija back into turnaround – usually the kiss of death for a project like this, one meant to cost over $100m and to tap into the hallowed “four-quadrant” ground (meant to appeal to both sexes and all ages). That first pitch likened the film to something like Jumanji, which could certainly be appealing, but Universal was shy to give it the go-ahead. Even the attachment of producer Michael Bay and director McG didn’t keep them interested, and for all intents and purposes, the project being put into turnaround could have been the last we ever heard of it. But it’s not. Deadline Chesterton now reports that Ouija has slid from a big “NO” to a much smaller “YES,” with Universal back on board to make it for a 2013 release, but with a significantly tighter budget than its previous incarnation. The new film will come with a tiny little $5m pricetag, one that signals that this will be no longer be a four-quadrant blockbuster, but something closer to a genre pic. Another indication that’s so? While original producers Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form are back in, they are also joined by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, who has produced films like Paranormal Activity and Insidious – films with small budgets that made big box office cash. THR also reports that Blum is responsible for the film’s new direction – a “high concept, lower budget model.”

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McG

McG’s latest film, the spy thriller/romantic comedy This Means War, just hit theaters this week, and, so far, I haven’t really talked to anybody who likes it. That’s pretty par for course at this point though, because it’s rare that I talk to anyone who likes any of McG’s movies. Despite that fact, the guy must be making somebody somewhere some money, because he keeps on getting new jobs. Speaking of which, McG recently talked to The Playlist about what he’s going to be doing next. First off, he described his new project, Puzzle Palace, as a “thriller” that is “tonally similar to Die Hard,” and then went on to give a more lengthy plot synopsis by adding that the film is about, “A kid who has to clear his father’s name by breaking into One Police Plaza in New York, which is the most secure building imaginable in a post-9/11 world. It’s a smaller picture, it’s designed for a [Ryan] Gosling [type actor]. It’s not as small and antithetical as Drive, but it’s not a big giant over-the-top action picture, it’s meant to be a fun, intelligent action character study.” If it manages to be either fun or intelligent, then it will be a huge break from the stupid, visually frustrating things that McG’s done so far; so I’m excited to hear him say that he’s planning on branching out.

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This Means War is, as McG puts it, exactly what you think a McG movie is. It’s as commercial and open as a movie can get, something the director has no shame about. Plenty scoff at the idea of loving the tag of a “populist” filmmaker, not McG. Clearly he sees his films as being more than dumb fun, though, and strives to make sure they’re not that. Films similar to This Means War usually don’t strike audience members as being a “personal” project in some fashion. That doesn’t seem to be the case for McG, as he puts it. This Means War has a scene featuring two of the leads discussing Alfred Hitchock, and you can just feel the director taking the opportunity to talk through his characters. It’s a fanboy touch, and he came off as the most energetic kind in our conversation. Here’s what McG had to say about embracing the title of a populist filmmaker, leaving behind med school for music and film, and reflecting on Terminator Salvation:

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr takes the week off because the studios didn’t screen the new releases anywhere near him. In fact, he was specifically told not to come to one particular screening. And that can’t be a good sign, can it? What else can you expect for the movies in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, ‘cause the new ones in the theaters don’t stand a chance of winning anything next year. To take away the pain of not seeing movies this week, Kevin makes a deal with the devil, selling his soul for the ability to set his skull on fire whenever he sees a bad movie. Unfortunately, the light from said flaming skull got him kicked out of the theater because someone thought he was using his cell phone to pirate the film.

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Game of Thrones Season 2

What is Movie News After Dark? Tonight it’s the column I’m filling in on as Neil Miller journeys to the mystical, frozen land of Chicago. It’s also a list of links to movie or entertainment related things that I either found interesting, noteworthy, or that involved super famous young girls from the Disney channel. Tonight we begin by getting a glimpse at the second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. WinterisComing.net has a whole host of pictures from the second season that have reminded me of how much I like the show and reinforced the three reasons why I’m looking forward to new episodes so much: boobs, blood, and Brienne. Hopefully we’ll be getting a lot of each.

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It looks like your Valentine’s Day movie-going options might now be limited to The Vow, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Safe House, and maybe Rampart if you and your significant other are feeling particularly punchy, as Fox has reportedly ditched their plan to open McG‘s This Means War on the 14th (next Tuesday). Deadline Springwood reports that the studio “hasn’t seen the pic’s poor tracking pick up at all in recent days,” pushing the studio to move the picture back to a wide release date on Friday the 17th, though there will be some sneak peeks sticking around on the 14th. What’s the issue? Well, oddly enough, Nikki Finke herself doesn’t seem to get it – her exclusive post on the matter includes lines like “I don’t get what the moviegoing public’s problem with this pic is: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Reese Witherspoon are just as cool casting as Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams” and “the film didn’t look dumb (and that’s is half the battle with this genre).” Clearly, Finke’s got a short memory on this one – the film went through a protracted cycle of casting, with names like Sam Worthington, Seth Rogen, and Bradley Cooper all getting bandied about before Hardy and Pine finally signed on for the flick (for some, frankly, pretty strange casting – Pine is set as the smooth operator and Hardy is the good boy), and the film was lensed back in 2010. Does the moviegoing public really care about stuff like that? […]

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I’m not sure how we missed this one, but I can only assume it was intentional. If you do a search of our site for the name ‘McG’ you’ll find mostly negative comments, critiques and flat-out insults including us celebrating the idea of the director being launched into space on a one-way ticket. (Of course, you’ll also find my Transformers 2 review that inexplicably calls for an apology to be given to McG.) But while we’re a month late in featuring this trailer for McG’s newest movie, we’re at least covering it with an open mind and a positive attitude. Because surprisingly, This Means War looks like it could actually be kind of fun. Tom Hardy and Chris Pine play CIA agents at the top of their game. They’re partners and friends who have each others backs and would let nothing come between them. Nothing that is, except a hot blonde. When the two discover that they’re both dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon) they decide to let her choose the better man. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try to hedge their bets using all the skills and equipment at their disposal. So yes, it’s basically Mad Magazine’s Spy vs Spy with a love story angle thrown in as motivation. Check out the trailer below, and get ready to accept the fact that even with Chelsea Handler co-starring it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as we all feared.

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Though it may seem as if Hollywood’s freshest talent is only interested in starring in adapted material if it’s sprung from books that use the words “twilight” or “hunger” or “dreamyvampthing” (maybe not that last one) in their titles, Amanda Seyfried is going a different route. The actress has been attached to the starring role in McG‘s The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League since March, but it wasn’t until today that the director’s Wonderland Sound and Vision, who are producing the project, got around to hiring scribes to adapt the material. Newcomers Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair will pen the script for the film, which is based on a “Rolling Stone” article of the same name written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The film focuses on the incredible real-life story of Esther Reed, a relative nobody from Montana who, by way of a staggering list of crimes, frauds, and out-and-0ut lies, managed to craft a fake identity that got her accepted to Columbia University. Far more than just a whip-smart scammer, Reed also used the identity of a missing girl to meet some of her goals (not cool) and was listed as one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives (kinda cool). Reed’s story is an interesting, maddening, and ultimately sad one that should make for some compelling cinema. You can read the full article from “Rolling Stone” HERE.

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