It is now nearing a decade since Hollywood has tried to crack the nut of bringing Jean-Pierre Melville‘s stone cold classic noir/procedural “Le Cercle Rouge” to the big screen, and it has seen a ton of talent come and go in that time. Back in 2004, it was set up at Paramount with John Woo attached to direct a script by Jeff Pinker (“Alias,” “Fringe“). He eventually left the project and Johnnie To (“Election,” “Time & Tide“) assumed the director’s chair. This incarnation seemed to gather steam, amassing a cast that one point had Liam Neeson, Chow Yun-Fat, Orlando Bloom, Tim Roth and Alain Delon (who starred in the original) attached or offered roles, with a Brit List script by Steve Knight (“Eastern Promises,” “Dirty Pretty Things“). That never came to pass, and more recently, John Hillcoat was offered a chance to direct , while Jaume Collet-Serra also kicked the tires on it. Now another director will give a shot.
CraveOnline attended the Television Critics Association press gathering this weekend where they chatted with “Vegas” producer Arthur Sarkissian who also happens to be developing the movie. “I’m working on something called ‘The Red Circle‘ which is based on an old French movie by Jean-Pierre Melville, ‘Le Cercle Rouge,’ ” Sarkissian said. “It’s a remake of that movie. I’m going to shoot it in Hong Kong and Macau and Jim Mangold’s going to direct it next summer.”
Acknowledging the number of helmers who have gone through the revolving door, Sarkissian is “hoping Jim will stay on” and makes the bold assertion that Melville’s film can be improved upon…by sticking to the exact same story (albeit now relocated). “It’s dated. It’s just dated. The characters, if you see it, Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volante, Bourvil and Yves Montand were fantastic, but the story kind of doesn’t hold together. It falls apart and doesn’t make sense in certain areas,” he explains. “It’s basically pretty much the same storyline. It’s about a guy who’s in prison, who was put in prison by someone, he lost the love of his life to this gangster who put him away for five years and he comes out seeking revenge. He hooks up with this guy who’s a hitman to try and do damage to this gangster.”
The producer also has the wishlist of all wishlists of talent he wants to work on the picture, although at this point, it’s far too early to predict if any of them will make his dream come true. “You know what, I have a wish list. I swear it’s so fantastic but Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, I’ve got ‘em all in my head, I hope to God one of them [accepts.] Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy, they could all be fantastic either as the hitman or the Corey character,” Sarkissian says.
As much we find the remake of this film a bit distasteful, a summer 2013 shoot seems optimistic at best. Mangold is gearing up to go into an extremely tight 11 month production on “The Wolverine” for Fox and we can’t imagine he’ll have any kind of time to focus or do pre-production work on “The Red Circle.” So whether or not he stays involved and Sarkissian waits for him to done with the superhero flick or the producer moves on to someone else (which we’d guess would happen if any of his fantasy casting comes through) remains to be seen. Mangold is a solid choice — his redo of “3:10 To Yuma” was pretty invigorating — so we suppose if it has to happen, at least it would be in a solid pair of hands. But as the past eight years have proven, getting “Red Circle” made hasn’t been easy.