Mimi Leder was already a seasoned, Emmy Award-winning director when Steven Spielberg tapped her to helm Dreamworks SKG’s first feature film, The Peacemaker. Some honor that proved to be. Gushing that "her camera has wings" (based on two seasons of work for the moderately groundbreaking ER), Spielberg essentially set Leder up to fail by stranding her with a flavorless screenplay about the frantic, globetrotting search for an errant Russian nuke. It’s not that The Peacemaker is a bad movie; it’s just that, as the initial offering from a wannabe studio launched by three of the most powerful men in Hollywood, it was curiously underwhelming.
Leder failed to improve upon the meager artistic success of The Peacemaker. Though her follow-up, Deep Impact, grossed over $300 million worldwide, it was pre-sold on the sight of a tsunami engulfing New York City (back when fucking up New York City was both innocuous and unthinkable); the money shots were all pre-vis’d by ILM. Then came Pay It Forward, ignominy, and a return to television.
But with that strike on the horizon, all is forgiven – even, it seems, Pay It Forward. So, after seven years’ worth of journeywoman boob tube gigs, Leder will make her inauspicious return to feature filmmaking with The Code, a caper flick starring Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas. Freeman will play an aging thief who teams with a younger criminal (Banderas) for a big-time heist that will get him out of dutch with the Russian mob.
The script is by another television veteran, Ted Humphrey, who is expanding a story by Reuben Leder (Mimi’s brother, also a TV guy). The film will begin shooting this October in Bulgaria, and will be produced by Nu Image/Millennium Films (which financed The Black Dahlia, and is currently overseeing John Rambo and Righteous Kill). If the script is decent, Leder’s a proficient enough director to deliver a reasonably diverting thriller. If you’ve a lot of free time, you might watch maybe half of this on cable in a couple of years.