Director James McTeigue worked his way up through assistant director ranks, notably for Alex Proyas on Dark City, for Lana and Andy Wachowski on The Matrix trilogy, and George Lucas on Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. His directorial debut – produced and written by the Wachowskis – was the stylish and impressive graphic novel adaptation V for Vendetta, which marked him as a talent to watch. McTeigue’s follow-ups, however, proved less than mind-blowing. While 2009’s Ninja Assassin delivered on the title’s promise – lots of killer ninja action – there was little else to recommend about it. And 2012’s The Raven, starring John Cusack in a fictional account of the still-mysterious last days of Edgar Allen Poe, was a complete misfire.
Yet there is no denying McTeigue’s talent behind the camera. He can connect with actors, as long as he has the right story, and the draw is evident by the cast he is lining up for his fourth outing as a feature director: the political thriller Survivor, starring Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil: Retribution).
Deadline reports that Jovovich will star as an employee for the State Department stationed in the U.S. embassy in London. Her job is to prevent terrorists from entering the United States, but when she is marked for death and framed for crimes she did not commit, she must clear her name and race against time to stop a terrorist attack aimed at Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Phil Shelby wrote the script, with Charles and Irwin Winkler producing for Millenium Films.
She will be joined by a stellar supporting cast, which includes Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Angela Bassett (American Horror Story: Coven). There is no word on the roles they will play, but earlier in the year, Katherine Heigl and Clive Owen were reported to be headlining this project – while they apparently dropped out under the radar, Brosnan likely took over the male lead for Owen.
As of a couple of months ago, McTeigue was reportedly attached to remake the Jean-Claude Van Damme martial arts vehicle Bloodsport. That film looks to have been delayed, since Millenium is eyeing a January 2014 start date for Survivor, which could make it into theaters later next year.
McTeigue earned a flood of critical bile from The Raven, but he knows his way around an action set-piece. Still, can he pin down the right tone for a political thriller? His involvement alone points toward Survivor adopting a more gun-happy (and explosion-filled) realm than, say, Zero Dark Thirty, despite the impending-terrorist-attack plot. Bloodsport is the project which we can safely say is in McTeigue’s wheelhouse, but expect Survivor to be competent popcorn entertainment, at best.
Survivor begins filming in London in 2014.