Neil Burger, whose movie The Illusionist was a sleeper hit for the Yari Film Group this summer, has just sold the pitch for his next movie to Universal. This time there’s no magic (although if you ask me there wasn’t much magic to The Illusionist either. Burn!!!) – Burger’s new film is a contemporary drama about terrorism and crime.
The story of the untitled film actually sounds pretty interesting. New York City is the setting; a terror threat has the city in a panic and law enforcement is cracking down, putting a serious crimp in crime. Criminal overlords get together and decide that the looming terror threat is bad for business, so they put their resources together to hunt down the terrorists.
That could make for a cracking pulp action film, and I hope that’s the tone Burger is going for. Variety’s write-up includes this sentence: “While their motivation is to get back to their nefarious business, the exercise forces them to re-examine their morality and place in society,” which indicates to me that Burger is looking to make something deeper than Nighthawks. That’s fine, and hopefully he looks to The Departed as his inspiration.
Burger is writing the script along with Dirk Wittenborn, who wrote Fierce People. Burger’s The Illusionist script is up for an Independent Spirit Award as well as the USC Scripter Award.