Cronenberg Casts Washington in Cold War Thriller

David Cronenberg’s crossover into the mainstream is almost complete. The indie stalwart, who got back on the Hollywood radar after modest successes with A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, is in negotiations to direct Denzel Washington in an adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s The Matarese Circle. Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, the “masterminds” behind this summer’s Wanted, are writing the script.

The Matarese Circle takes place during the Cold War, and deals with the partnership of two rival agents-an American and a Soviet-who fight to save the world from mass destruction. You know, typical spy stuff. While there hasn’t been any word yet on who would play opposite Mr. Washington in the role of the Soviet agent, /Film speculates perhaps Viggo Mortensen, Mr. Cronenberg’s go-to-muse of the last decade, would take on that part. Since he’s already had the practice doing a Russian accent in Eastern Promises, we think that’s mighty fine casting. Plus, who doesn‘t like Viggo?

Sadly, our enthusiasm for Mr. Cronenberg is more tempered.  We appreciate his technical aptitude, but often his films lack anything resembling real human emotion. They’re cold and clinical and so overly violent that they achieve the point of numbness. Perhaps then, he’s the perfect director to tackle something written by Robert Ludlum, the master of cold and clinical storytelling. And, we’ll be honest, despite our misgivings about Mr. Cronenberg we’re still interested to see his take on the genre. We love when directors work outside their boxes!

Just a small post-script: Doesn’t it seem like Denzel Washington only makes these mismatched buddy movies where rivals come together? American Gangster, Training Day, Inside Man, the upcoming Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 remake with John Travolta and now The Matarese Circle. They’re all ruminations on the same theme. We love Denzel, but come on! Maybe it’s time to try something a little more challenging.