After “The A-Team” failed to connect with critics and audiences, Joe Carnahan very literally went out in the wild. And now, he’s back with a completely different cinematic animal in “The Grey,” his gritty thriller led by Liam Neeson about a group of Alaskan pipeline workers forced to square off against the bitter cold of winter and a pack of wolves when their plane crashes. The director is talking to press in advance of his film, eager to discuss what’s next on his plate — he told us his developing “Killing Pablo” is headed into casting — and he reveals he’s got another movie bubbling in the background. An action flick with an interesting twist.
Titled “Continue,” and described as “ ‘Groundhog Day‘ as an action movie” Carnahan said the movie is an opportunity to scratch his funny bone. “As much as I love Antonioni films, I love the Three Stooges,” he recently told press in Los Angeles. “I think [‘Continue’] is funny as shit. It’s completely, from DNA to bone structure, different from ‘The Grey’ but that doesn’t mean it’s something I wouldn’t do because now [I’ve] got to make serious films. I think I made this film to kind of prove to myself and whatever people are going to hire me in the future and the public at large that there’s a lot of different things I can do. If I can do a romantic comedy with women, that’s Everest to me.”
And as uh, “interesting” as that movie sounds, right now it seems his heart is set on “Killing Pablo,” a movie he says is “the best script I’ve written.” Based on the book by “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden, the story focuses on the joint efforts of U.S. and Columbian military to hunt down the famed drug lord. Javier Bardem was initially attached to the role but now it looks like rumored casting choice Edgar Ramirez (“Che,” “Carlos”) is in the mix. But regardless of who gets the part, Carnahan will have a ton of research on hand for them to work with.
“As much as The Grey is about attrition and going out and earning it, you know, I’ve been to Colombia three times, Medellin and Bogotá, I’ve done all this research,” Carnahan said. “I think what kind of crystallized it for me is I went to Los Olivos where he was killed, in Medellin, which is kind of a very modest middle-class neighborhood, and I was interviewing this 78-year-old man through an interpreter. I was talking to him, because Pablo was killed December 2, 1993. I said to him, ‘Can you tell me about that day?’ Because I’d gone up on the roof where he was killed and it was very undramatic, where he wound up dying; it was like a terra cotta box that he died in. And the guy said to me, and I’ll never forget this: ‘The day it happened I thought it was an early winter thunderstorm,’ because the level of gunfire was so constant he could not discern individual shots. And I thought, ‘Fuck me, I’ve got to make this movie.’”
It’s certainly a great story waiting to be told and done justice, and Carnahan is certainly enthused and passionate enough to make that happen. But for now, we have “The Grey,” and Liam Neeson will strap a mini-bar to his hands when the movie opens on January 27th. [Movieline]