Few people seem to possess the same work ethic as Luc Besson. Over the past two years, the French filmmaker has scripted or co-written several action movies – From Paris with Love, Colombiana, Lockout, and this fall’s Taken 2 – while also finding time to direct two feature-length projects (Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds and The Lady).
The next item on Besson’s to-do list is Malavita, a movie he is slated to produce and direct from his own script – which is based on the novel “Badfellas” written by Tonino Benacquista. Coincidentally, the film will be headlined by a Goodfellas alum, in the form of two-time Oscar-winner Robert De Niro.
Benacquista’s book tells the tale of the Blake family, which is led by Fred, a former Mafia head who struck a deal with the FBI and is now a member of the organization’s witness-protection program (along with his family). The Blakes are relocated to the Normandy region of France, where they attempt to lay low and not attract the attention of Fred’s numerous enemies. Needless to say, that plan goes awry.
Variety reports that Michelle Pfeiffer is currently in negotiations to co-headline Malavita as the wife of De Niro’s character who, “has a penchant for arson when crossed.” The film is the first in a two-picture deal between Relativity Media and Besson’s EuropaCorp – along with Three Days to Kill, which is being co-penned by Besson and Adi Hasak (who previously collaborated on From Paris with Love). Malavita would also mark a reunion (sort of) for De Niro and Pfeiffer, who both showed up in Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust adaptation – though, they never shared the screen – and were part of the celebrity ensemble in Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve.
De Niro and Besson’s collective track record has been pretty hit-or-miss in recent years (sadly, more misses in De Niro’s case); but when both are on their A-game, the results can be good fun. Combine the possibility that Pfeiffer will be put to better use here than in her last film (Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows), and Malavita could go down as one of the better, bitingly-funny thrills rides from House Besson in recent memory.
We will keep you posted on any additional noteworthy developments concerning Malavita as the film gears up to begin production this August, with a currently-unspecified 2013 theatrical release date in mind.