‘Incendies’ director to take ‘Prisoners,’ a vigilante thriller


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EXCLUSIVE: Denis Villeneuve is getting strong reviews for ‘Incendies,’ his story of Canadian emigres who return to the Middle East to track down family secrets after their mother dies. He could soon reach an even wider audience.

The French Canadian director has landed the gig to direct ‘Prisoners,’ a vigilante thriller that’s set up with Warner Bros. and ‘The Blind Side’ producer Alcon Entertainment, according to a person who was briefed on the project but not authorized to talk publicly about it. Alcon principal and ‘Prisoners’ producer Andrew Kosove confirmed that Villeneuve will come aboard and called ‘Incendies’ ‘the best movie made last year, in my opinion.’


Based on Aaron Guzikowski’s Black List script, ‘Prisoners’ tells of a working-class Boston father whose young daughter is kidnapped, along with her friend. Frustrated by a local detective’s handling of the case, the father takes as a hostage the man he believes committed the crimes. The movie would mark the English-language debut for Villeneuve, who has earned acclaim for the three features that preceded ‘Incendies.’ The Black List is an annual compendium of Hollywood’s top unproduced screenplays.

Various stars have been attached to ‘Prisoners’ since the project was first put into active development in 2009, with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale at one point lined up to play the father and the detective, respectively. ‘Training Day’ director Antoine Fuqua was on board to direct ‘Prisoners’ before he left to helm another film.

Leonardo DiCaprio had been attached to star, but his involvement was considered fluid before a director came on board, and Kosove said DiCaprio won’t be joining the project. ‘He’s a very talented actor but this process of choosing a director outside the three or four he normally works with became too time consuming,’ Kosove said. ‘I don’t think it will happen with Leonardo.’ The project is seeking other cast members, he said, and aims to shoot in the fall.

Vigilante-flavored missing-children stories have been a hot commodity since the blockbuster success of ‘Taken’ two years ago. ‘Prisoners’ also fits squarely with ‘Incendies,’ which similarly combines the conventions of family drama and a thriller. That movie was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival and earned an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film before opening commercially this weekend.


Movie Review: Incendies

--Steven Zeitchik