Walter Hill as a director just like his movies. Quiet, professional. Gets the job done with no muss or fuss. He’s rated by the people who pay attention, but he’s never been a name player but to those who noticed his genius. He also hasn’t made a theatrical feature in nearly a decade.

It was 2002’s Undisputed that last saw Hill on the big screen, and it’s a solid effort. He was a producer on the Alien franchise so likely he’s comfortable not working, and he’s dipped his toe in television – he did the pilot for Deadwood and set the tone of that show. Still, he’s not that old and he’s not dead. He’s one of the greatest living American directors.

And it seems Sylvester Stallone noticed, as Hill – according to Harry Knowles and Sly himself – will be directing Headshot.  The premise is that a cop and an assassin team up. Sold.

Hill’s done the buddy-cop thing before, his 48 hrs. is probably the high point of the genre (though if you wish to get technical, it’s not really a buddy cop comedy in the sense that both are cops, though they are effectively partnered with each other, so there’s a case to be made). He also did Red Heat, which is modest.  And Another 48 hrs which is probably his worst film that’s credited to him (he took his name off Supernova). Though not entirely his fault. The man also made some of the best films of the 1970’s and 80’s, and could shoot an action scene with the best of them.

Stallone has helmed all his comeback pictures, and each film has dropped in quality the further Stallone’s gone on, so Hill’s a welcome addition. Rocky Balboa was a solid piece of work, and Rambo was ace exploitation once people started dying, but The Expendables… has problems. It’s good to see Stallone give the reigns to someone else, and perhaps Hill is itching to get back in the saddle. And as Stallone has emerged as bankable yet again, they should have a reasonable budget to play with. Hill’s a master at the B movie.

Hill recently attended screenings of his films The Driver and The Warriors at The New Beverly. He comes across in person just as you’d expect: Totally awesome. This is excellent news. Likely we’ll see this picture in 2012. Let’s hope the Mayans were idiots.