Seven or eight years ago, Hollywood star Ben Affleck couldn’t catch a break. A promising and likeable actor who was one of the more exciting new talents of the late 90′s, Affleck found himself incapable of ignoring the public scrutiny of his personal life and then a string of really bad film choices (Gigli, Surviving Christmas and Man About Town three particular low points) left him as damaged goods in the minds of casting directors.
The major film scripts were no longer being sent to him. The most in-demand young actor of the early part of the new Millennium was already seen as burned out but Affleck had stories he wanted to tell and when the calls stopped coming, he made the decision to tell them himself. Gone Baby Gone debuted in 2007 and was one of the best directorial debuts of the decade and then very quickly Hollywood were reminded of how talented this guy really was. The acting offers came back in and although he did a few of them including a great turn in State of Play, the directing bug had caught him and last year he gave us The Town, a heist thriller that Sidney Lumet would have been proud to have attached to his name.
Now Affleck is a major player. Amazingly last year he turned down the directing job on Superman’s reboot Man of Steel (can you imagine saying that in 2005??) and also Warner Bros’ major period crime movie Tales From The Gangster Squad. He is seen as that studio’s top guy behind Chris Nolan but it’s clear he wants to do things his way, make the movie he wants to instead of listening to his agent which probably led to his mid 00′s downfall.
Affleck will soon go into production on his third directorial effort the Middle East hostage thriller Argo with Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Scoot McNairy but he is already setting up what looks likely to be his fourth film. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news yesterday evening that Affleck is looking to star and direct the original thriller Line of Sight about “an elite commando squad transporting cargo while dealing with a global threat” that is setup, of course, at Warner Bros with Joel Silver producing.
Ordinary genre fair at first glance but when we look closer, Affleck has revealed that he wants to tell the movie in first person, basically like a first person shooter video game and something that We Own The Night helmer James Gray is hoping to achieve with his newly announced Brad Pitt starring assassination thriller The Gray Man. Perhaps fittingly Halo: Reach writer Peter O’Brien has wrote the latest draft of the screenplay that originally was written as a spec by F. Scott Frazier.
Both James Gray’s movie with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck’s here are tackling a difficult gimmick to keep audiences interest for the whole duration of film. Think for example of the movie version of Doom. The general consensus was the movie was boring to watch, similar to that of watching somebody play a cool looking video game but not being able to pick up the controller yourself. Yeah it looks fun… but only when you can get in on the action yourself!
Still it’s an experiment that somebody is going to try sooner or later and at least both projects have majorly talented people behind them.