When you tell me Doug Liman and John Hamburg are developing a project about "a private expedition to the moon and the race for lunar colonization", I’m not liable to get very excited. But when you add that their screenplay has been completely reconceived and rewritten by Mark Bowden, well, that’s something else entirely.
While I wasn’t aware the author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo dabbled in science-fiction (or screenwriting for that matter), who’s to say he can’t nail this genre like he has damn near everything else? He’s terrific with action, smart with detail (in that he immerses the reader in minutiae without boring them) and, most crucially, he can spin a yarn like nobody’s business (and, really, it isn’t your business, so butt the fuck out).
And he’ll be working with a gifted director in Liman, who always seems smarter than the movies he ends up making (The Bourne Identity being the exception, I guess). This isn’t to say his movies aren’t usually enjoyable (even Mr. and Mrs. Smith is decent until the extraneous warehouse gunfight); they just always seem to be limited by either the conventions of their genres or the imaginations of their writers.
Unless Bowden is taking on this screenplay as an experiment in studio screenwriting (i.e. chasing a quick paycheck), he’ll give Liman lots of ideas to mull over – which is probably the last thing the chronically behind-schedule filmmaker needs, but we’ll let DreamWorks fret about that. The casting of Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but it could be much worse (e.g. "This is the film that will remind us why we fell in love with Stephen Dorff").
There’s no start date for the Untitled Moon Project, but it’s apparently getting fast-tracked. Alli Shearmur will produce with Liman and Simon Kinberg.