Say what you will about the Wachowski siblings, they’re interesting filmmakers with visions that are distinct from most of Hollywood’s major players. So you’d think that a protégé of theirs would have carved out a more recognizable place for themselves in cinema, but director James McTeigue hasn’t quite risen up past the potential attached to his name after he put out his 2005 debut feature V for Vendetta. Perhaps he will once again garner critical and popular acclaim with his next flick, the otherworldly thriller Alien Sleeper Cell. To be clear, I’m not entirely certain a movie with that name is acclaim-worthy, but this will be a good litmus test.
McTeigue will be working with Joe Gatta and Joni Sighvatsson’s new outlet ScanBox Studios, along with Prime Universe Films (Hitman: Agent 47). The plot details are being kept under Area 51-type lock and key, but it’s being described as in the same vein as The Bourne Identity and FX’s The Americans, only happening during an alien invasion. Does that mean the government is going to be behind everything, or that it will have an international flair, or both? It’s kind of exciting to think about aliens entering into a conspiratorial spy story. Pod people, unite!
Alien Sleeper Cell‘s screenplay was written by Morgan Davis Foehl, a rising star who has a handful of projects currently in differing stages of production. He wrote the script behind Michael Mann’s cyber thriller Blackhat with Chris Hemsworth, as well as the “will it ever exist” adaptation of the popular video game Mass Effect. Here’s hoping that means the alien spy concept is far-reaching and is given a fair budget to create some wacky effects.
V for Vendetta came after years of McTeigue’s efforts as first assistant directors on movies like Dark City and Matrix trilogy, and he followed that flick with 2009’s fun but forgettable actioner Ninja Assassin, which was produced by the Wachowskis. He got out from beneath their wings with 2012’s The Raven, which wasn’t unwatchable but wasn’t wonderful either. His next feature is the action thriller Survivor with Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, and Milla Jovovich, and then he’s reteaming with the Wachowskis for their Netflix Original series Sense8.
Take a few minutes to watch McTeigue’s latest work, this year’s artsy short film Caserta Palace Dream, with Richard Dreyfuss.
Here’s hoping casting for Alien Sleeper Cell begins soon, which will give us a good idea of what tier of film this can be considered.