Ever since his bad-police magnum opus Training Day, director Antoine Fuqua has specialized in taking totally implausible, big-budget action movies and making them plausible: an Arthurian myth grounded in Roman history; an elite gunman who avenges a Cheney-esque government oil conspiracy; Richard Gere as a cop. For his latest film, Olympus Has Fallen, Fuqua takes on the holy mountain of action-movie clichés: the White House under siege by terrorists. Sure, it’s an over-the-top premise that demands an extra dose of salt and butter to swallow, but Fuqua takes it seriously. This is, after all, the guy who helped Denzel Washington combat the Academy’s antediluvian white-male tendencies and win a history-making second Oscar. So when we got a chance to talk to the guy behind the first of the two Die Hard–in-the–White House movies, we took it. Read on as Fuqua discusses beating the bejesus out of Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman’s lovely singing voice, and why big-time Hollywood directors should be part of the national security debate. [Note: There are some SPOILERS ahead.]
It turns out that Chris Ryan and I are slow bingers. One month after the entire first season of House of Cards was dumped onto Netflix's servers like a half-rack of ribs at Freddy's, we finally managed to digest all 13 episodes. If we held back in the watching, though, we certainly didn't in the discussing: We attacked this thing like Frank Underwood sinking his teeth into a side of Freddy's delicious slaw, breaking down everything from the feng shui of free-spirited photographers and the gravity-altering intensity of Robin Wright's neck bones to the confounding mysteries of lady journalists and their backward-buttoning sweaters. All spoilers apply here, and we're not talking about Major Dad knowing how to speak Chinese.
Sequels: Man on a Drawbridge, Man in a Fridge, Man by a Hedge. Sam Worthington is the man, and Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Oliver, or Edward Burns are the ledge. Pablo F. Fenjves, the screenwriter, has previously written mostly TV movies with titles like Trophy Wife, The Devil's Child, Bloodhounds I & II, and When the Dark Man Calls.
Gerard Butler will star in a Ridley Scott directed film about ex-British Army officer Simon Mann, who in 2004 tried to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea with a group of mercenaries. Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe, spent five years in prison there, and then taken to Guinea, where he was sentenced to 34 more years – until a presidential pardon set him free. Well, this certainly will not be the president of Equatorial Guinea’s favorite movie. Everyone knows the president of Equatorial Guine’s favorite movie is Flubber. Grade: B- [Deadline]
Matthew McConaughey will star alongside Gerard Butler and Sam Worthington in Thunder Run, an adaptation of David Zucchino's book Thunder Run — The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad about the three-day assault at the beginning of the Iraq War. Here’s the thing, though: This will be a 3-D CG movie that will use facial-capture technology and green-screen technology to create a unique effect. “What we capture in our cameras will be them,” explains producer Brian Presley. “It’ll have a stylized effect to it but we are shooting them.” “That means when CG Matthew McConaughey takes his shirt off, the real Matthew McConaughey has also taken his shirt off,” Presley did not add. Grade: B+ [HR]
Gerard Butler is in talks to star in Hunter Killer as Captain Joe Glass, the untested commander of the submarine USS Toledo, who is working alongside a Navy SEAL team to rescue Russia’s president from a military coup (Sam Worthington is being targeted to lead the SEAL squad). By the way, this is the movie director Antoine Fuqua left the Tupac biopic for. Ah, Antoine Fuqua, come on, man: Gerard Butler can’t rap! Grade: C+ [Showblitz]
Russell Crowe will join Mark Wahlberg in Allen Hughes' Broken City as a mayor who hires a private detective (Wahlberg) to spy on his wife, whom he rightfully suspects of cheating. The role of Crowe's wife has not yet been cast, but we have a suggestion. Grade: B [Deadline]
In other Russell-related news, Warner Bros. has given foppish flop peddlerRussell Brand a first-look development deal and his own production company, which the Arthur star has christened Branded Films, possibly because Tax Write-Down Productions was taken. Grade: D [Deadline]