You may best know him from the Crank films or the Expendables franchise, but before Jason Statham became an international action movie icon, he was a street hustler in England’s black market. Director Guy Ritchie found out about his past and cast Statham as a con artist in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which kickstarted his acting career. He went on to star in Snatch and Revolver for Ritchie, and now it appears that the actor will be heading back to his British crime thriller roots for a new project.
Deadline reports that Statham and his manager/producing partner Steve Chasman have acquired the rights to Viva La Madness, an upcoming book written by J.J. Connolly that serves as a sequel to Connolly’s Layer Cake. Matthew Vaughn, who served as a producer for Ritchie on Lock, Stock and Snatch, made his directorial debut in 2004 with a film version of Layer Cake that starred a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, so there’s all sorts of shared history with the key players in this equation.
Statham will play the same character Craig played in the first film, an unnamed man known only as XXXX, who – after apparently surviving a surprise attack at the end of the first movie – is looking to retire peacefully on an exotic beach. But instead, as Deadline says, “he gets involved with trans-Atlantic drug deals, money laundering, high-tech electronic fraud, London lowlifes and Venezuelan drug cartels.” Sounds dizzying, and hopefully Connolly can tighten the story up a bit when compared with the first entry into this saga. (Layer Cake is an OK movie, but from what I can tell it’s generally regarded as a Guy Ritchie knock-off.)
Connolly will write the screenplay (as he did with Layer Cake), but so far there haven’t been any names dropped for potential directors. Could Statham himself get behind the camera for the first time? He’s certainly seen his fair share of action directors at work, and this could be a great opportunity for a breakout directing career. Stay tuned for more.
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