Word association time: ‘career rehab’ naturally leads to ‘Tom Cruise’, but not necessarily to ‘David Cronenberg’. From a mainstream perspective, Cruise needs to do a lot more roles like Tropic Thunder — memorable, easily digestible stuff. But from an actor’s perspective, working with David Cronenberg is as good an idea as Cruise is likely to have any time soon.

So he’s flying over The Matarese Circle, considering the possibility of jumping into the fray with long-signed star Denzel Washington. Since it’s a Ludlum adaptation (in which Cruise and Washington would be enemy spies targeted by a shadowy organization) the film is ironically a more commercial prospect than Valkyrie. Knowing that Cronenberg’s last two thriller-ish films have resulted in Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nods can’t hurt.

I never would have hoped that Cronenberg would tackle material like this, and I have to contextualize it alongside the pleasures of his last two movies to like the idea even now. But the notion of him directing Denzel and Cruise is one I actually like a lot. Cruise has an undeniable presence and personality, and I’m deeply curious to see what Cronenberg can bring out of him.