When I interviewed Josh Lucas two weeks ago (look for that to run today, the good lord willing), I thought to myself that it’s been two years since we’ve seen him in a movie that actually required acting. That film was the excellent and still-ignored Undertow. He’s made a reasonable film or two since then, but nothing that actually calls for Lucas to ac – in fact he told me that his main mission on the set of Poseidon, his latest, was to reduce his character, to make himself more minimal.
Maybe he’ll get a chance to get in some acting in his next film, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, but the more I read about the movie, the more I doubt it. The film is based on the book by Bernard-Henri Levy, the Action Philosopher who traveled to Pakistan to investigate the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Levy claims to have uncovered connections between Pakistan’s secret service and Al Qaeda (a shocker, I know).
So far so good. But here’s the thing – the film is being fictionalized up the wazoo. First of all, Daniel Pearl is being fictionalized to avoid infringing on a possible Pearl movie being set up by his widow. OK, that’s reasonable. But the Levy role has been changed to an American TV newsman “who must shed the trappings of fame” to do the investigation. Lame! I’m not a Who Killed Daniel Pearl? partisan – I never even read the book – but taking a real story like this and turning it into a narcissistic American wankfest is annoying. God forbid a Frenchman does something in our movies. And it’s being set up as a thriller, so expect plenty more fictionalization in the form of gunfights and the like.
I don’t know what role Lucas is playing – some people claim it’s Daniel Pearl, but I think they’re misunderstanding the nature of the book, which isn’t a Pearl biopic but rather more of a mystery. My bet is that Lucas is playing the TV reporter. Kip Williams, director of The Door in the Floor, is taking the helm on this one. As for the script, it may have some level of credibility – it’s scripted by New York Times Magazine foreign correspondent Peter Landesman.