There’s no question that Ang Lee is one of our most successful filmmakers. He’s had critical hits in a wide range of genres and subject matters — he’s one of only a handful of directors to win the Best Director Oscar twice — and he’s made unlikely blockbuster successes of Mandarin-languages period adventures, gay rural romances and an adventure about a boy on a boat with a tiger.
But last year saw him have a rare disaster with his war drama “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” an ambitious film that hoped, with its high-frame-rate technology, to suggest the future of cinema, but which instead was greeted with tepid reviews and brutal box office (it made less than $2 million domestically against a $40 million budget, though performed marginally better internationally). As such, it’s perhaps not entirely surprising to learn, via The Hollywood Reporter, that Lee’s next movie looks to be in more commercial territory, though as ever with Lee, there’s a twist or two.
According to the trade, Lee has signed on to direct sci-fi thriller “Gemini Man” for Skydance Entertainment, a movie that’s been gestating for twenty years at this point. The original pitch, by “Goosebumps” writer Darren Lemke, was irresistible: an ageing assassin who tries to retire, only to be hunted by a younger clone of himself who’s far more physically capable. Over the years, it’s attracted the attention of stars like Mel Gibson, directors like Tony Scott, Curtis Hanson and Joe Carnahan (who revealed a sizzle reel he cut for the project a while back), and A-list writers like Andrew Niccol and, most recently, “Game Of Thrones” scribe David Benioff, but nervousness about the technology needed to do the story justice meant it never got to the starting gate.
We’d figured that the similar premise of Rian Johnson’s “Looper” might have finally killed the project, but it’s now been picked up by Skydance, with Jerry Bruckheimer producing, and Lee’s attachment to direct is certainly a signal of intent. With digitally de-aging stars becoming increasingly prevalent (Marvel have done it more than once, “Star Wars” did it with Carrie Fisher in ‘Rogue One,’ and it was at the heart of David Fincher’s ‘Benjamin Button’), the chance that it could work is certainly greater than ever, and we’re intrigued to see what Lee — who did wonders with digital work in “Life Of Pi” — could pull off.
There’s no firm timeline on the project as yet, but with Lee having turned down the “Mulan” remake, and struggling to get financing on his Ali/Frazier movie, this could well turn out to be his next project if they can get the right star. Who should take the lead role? Sound off in the comments.