That it’s become cliche to lament the passing of Steve Martin’s credibility leaves me with no option but to curse one of my comedy heroes for hatching an uninspired spy thriller premise that, on its face, wouldn’t pass muster as a made-for-cable movie. If you’re so goddamned determined to wreck movies, Steve, could you at least stick to doing it with your own star vehicles?
The project in question is called Traitor (Martin’s mind was whirring like ceiling fan the day he pieced this one together), and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s about "a CIA operative working undercover with a terrorist group who becomes a terrorist suspect". Don Cheadle will play the UC, while Guy Pearce will presumably do the Javert/Gerard thing as an FBI investigator tracking terrorist activity. Hey, I’m excited to see these guys go head-to-head, too – just not in this particular film.
Martin pitched his Le Carre-level idea to producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman while they were busy defeating the human spirit on the set of Bringing Down the House. Jeff Nachmanoff, who, according to the Reporter, "made a name for himself writing big-budget fare like The Day After Tomorrow" (in the same way Ted Kennedy "made a name for himself as a stunt driver at Chappaquiddick"), was soon brought on to script and direct based apparently on the amount of books he bought to research the subject. Seriously. I love this excerpt from the article:
"’He did a lot of research; his first bill to us was for 15 books,’ Lieberman said. ‘This is in no way jingoistic.’
Said Hoberman: ‘The movie deals with the subject of terrorism evenhandedly. It’s not black and white but gray and religious-based.’"
Translation: buying a lot of books means you’re not excessively patriotic, while the opposite to "black and white" in David Hoberman’s mind is "gray and religious-based". Yep, these are the incisive minds I want behind the scenes on a hot-button political thriller like Traitor.
The film will begin shooting this fall in Toronto and Morocco. I’m sure Nachmanoff would love to snag Steve Martin for a supporting role, but, alas, he’ll be busy with The Brutal Rape and Murder of the Pink Panther. Into the mud, Scum King!