Michael Mann turned 70 in February, which means that a long gap between features isn't helpful for a director who over a two decade period was the most arresting and forceful American filmmaker in Hollywood. Mann's last film was the patchy Public Enemies in 2009, which capped an extraordinary run which began in 1986 with Manhunter and included Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali, Collateral and Miami Vice. After a television sojourn with the ill-fated series horse racing Luck, Mann is back with Cyber, a thriller about a U.S. and Chinese investigation into a cyber-terrorist that moves across Asia. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this will probably be better than Hackers or Swordfish.
Mann, who has always had a keen casting eye, has secured the Australian star Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush) as his lead, who may have to make some intense keyboard typing faces, and the supporting cast includes Viola Davis (Knight and Day, The Help) and, in a reflection of the movie business's reliance on international takings, a selection of leading Asian film stars such as Tang Wei (Lust, Caution), Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (The Stool Pigeon), and Shawn Yue Man-lok (I Come With the Rain). Stories about computer crime have so far made for great magazine articles, but the movies have been a different matter.
Hemsworth, who has a Thor sequel up next and an eventual reassembling of The Avengers in 2015, will reunite with Rush director Ron Howard after Cyber finishes shooting in Asia. In the Heart of the Sea is an adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick's novel about the doomed 19th century ship whose extraordinary encounter with a giant whale would inspire Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Hemsworth plays the first mate, with Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) as Melville, Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as the inexperienced captain, and Cillian Murphy (Inception) and Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2) rounding out the ill-fated crew.
From Code to 'craft
Duncan Jones, who directed two very strong science-fiction films, the drama Moon and the thriller Source Code, appears to be serious about making a World of Warcraft movie. The computer game adaptation is casting, with the leads for the as yet unannounced plot reported to be Colin Farrell (Alexander, In Bruges) and Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Wife of the Guy Miley Cyrus Twerked On at the VMA Awards). The latter title isn't a film, but it possibly should be.
Tyldum takes a crack on Turing
Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum will follow the blithely cynical thriller Headhunters with The Imitation Game, the story of legendary British mathematician Alan Turing, who cracked crucial German codes during World War II and invented the field of computer science but was hounded to his death due to his homosexuality. The story will focus on his cryptanalysis during WWII, with Turing to be played by the very busy Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, the forthcoming WikiLeaks film The Fifth Estate) opposite Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina, A Dangerous Method) and Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty).