“And for my next trick…I’m going to make the Suez Canal disappear!” While he may not have said that exactly, magician Jasper Maskelyne did accomplish that feat to stunned onlookers, one of his many amazing illusions during World War II which included hiding the port of Alexandria Harbor and fooling Rommel with a phantom army that didn’t exist. “The War Magician” seems a story ripe for the big screen — and indeed nearly 10 years ago it was a potential project for Peter Weir, and before that, a starring vehicle for Tom Cruise — but Variety reports that the film is now in the hands of Marc Forster who plans to direct. Update: oops, maybe not. Variety now says he’s not directing.
The helmer is currently busy on his other warfare movie (of sorts), the zombie infection thriller “World War Z,” but it seems he’s digging his battle-stories-with-a-twist. The movie will be based off the best-selling book by David Fisher, that chronicles Maskelyne’s marriage of magic and warfare, which included creating fake bomb holes to fool Germans into thinking they hit their targets, and elaborate stage productions that worked as cover for espionage missions. At one point, years ago, the film had a script from Peter Buchman (“Che,” “Jurassic Park III“) but there’s no word if it will still be used or redrafted.
And while Forster has stumbled a bit of late — “Quantum Of Solace” was a bit of a mess, and let’s not talk about “Machine Gun Preacher” — “World War Z” is certainly promising, and “War Magician” is brimming with potential. Here’s hoping Forster can finally bring this long-developing project to the movie screen.