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Anderson To Direct Man With The Football
And no, David Beckham isn't involved

15 February 2005  |  Written by   

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Believe it or not, but heated debate on the nature and direction of Paul W.S. Anderson’s career isn’t just restricted to irate fanboys, furious in their perception of Anderson’s desecration of, say, the Alien and Predator franchises (‘AvP raped my childhood!’), the Resident Evil series (‘Resident Evil raped my childhood and then slapped George Romero’s mother!’) and the holy grail that was David Webb People’s script for Soldier (‘Paul W.S. Anderson raped David People’s childhood, then opened my fridge and rearranged my cheeses – without asking!’), trying to figure out what the ‘W.S.’ stands for.

In fact there was a discussion in the Empire offices just the other day, in which it was stated that, after the critical failure (but, we have to concede, commercial success) of Alien Vs Predator, we’d like to see the Newcastle-born director do something that didn’t have sci-fi overtones, where hopefully he wouldn’t be distracted with bells and whistles. And – as if by magic – it was announced today that Anderson will call the shots on the forthcoming thriller, Man With The Football.

The title, it has to be said, is somewhat misleading. This is neither a sequel to Bend It Like Beckham, or an NFL-set story, but a extremely current and potentially nailbiting and terrifying political thriller, in which terrorists nab the President of the United States’ briefcase, which is commonly referred to by those in the know (so that’s nobody in the current administration, then) as ‘the football’.

What’s so scary about that, we hear you cry? Well, assuming the football belongs to the current White House occupant, once the terrorists had crowbarred open the Samsonite lock, all they’d find would be candy, My First Big Book Of Being The Leader Of The Free World, a comfort blankie, a play phone in brightly coloured plastic and a tag saying, "I belong to George. If he loses me, call his daddy on 555-EX-PREZ". Oh, and the computer and telecommunications equipment that can sanction nuclear strikes. Ulp. So that’s pretty scary, then, given the ‘current climate’.

So think of it as a harder-edged Tom Clancy flick without Jack Ryan, as the Americans try desperately to retrieve the briefcase, while the terrorists try frantically to work out the presumably simplified instructions (‘1. Press big red button. 2. Blow up world’) and send us all to kingdom come.

All of which sounds like it could be right up Anderson’s street. For all the fanboy ire directed his way (and believe us, right now Harry Knowles is probably organising a geek march on the UN in protest against this), Anderson has talent, and can shoot a decent setpiece. We’ll certainly keep an eye on this Columbia project, which has been kicking around for years, with Sly Stallone once attached to star. We’ll bring you updated casting news as soon as we get it.

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