I expect there would be no small uproar if it were ever announced that Jason Statham would replace Daniel Craig in the iconic role of superspy James Bond. But that probably isn’t the case with any of Craig’s other characters, and so it is with only a minimal amount of trepidation that we accept the news that Statham and his producer partner Steve Chasman acquired the rights to Viva La Madness, J.J. Connolly’s novelized sequel to his hit 2000 novel Layer Cake, which Matthew Vaughn turned into Layer Cake a feature in 2004, with Craig in the unnamed lead role. Does this mean Statham will be coming back to the quick-witted Brit crime capers that launched his career? Let’s hope so.
Not to give away the ending to Layer Cake, but the protagonist bad guy wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape, and his future trials and tribulations aren’t going to make his life any easier. Deadline reports Connolly’s follow-up will follow the character as he looks for a sandy beachside to retire to, but instead gets himself thrown headfirst into a plot involving "trans-Atlantic drug deals, money laundering, high-tech electronic fraud, London lowlifes and Venezuelan drug cartels." In other words, just your average weekend for a Statham character.
As with Layer Cake, Connolly will be adapting his own novel into a screenplay. He recently scripted a heist film called H for Guy Ritchie, whose Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch first introduced American audiences to Statham’s tight-lipped badassery. And when you consider Vaughn was an executive producer on Ritchie’s early films, this all seems like it was meant to be.
It’s unclear whether Vaughn, who is currently filming the comic adaptation The Secret Service, will be back in any capacity on Viva La Madness, but it doesn’t really matter to me either way. Layer Cake was almost too heavy on the flashy cinematography, and while Vaughn’s Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class were fine films, they didn’t really do much for me from a filmmaking standpoint.
This won’t be the first time Statham has taken over a role popularized by others, though his take on Donald Westlake’s most popular character in this year’s Parker left much to be desired. We’ll see Statham reprising his own roles in both The Expendables 3 and Fast & Furious 7 next year. But first we’ll get to see him fight James Franco in the admittedly awesome looking Homefront, and then he’ll be protecting important people in Simon West’s crime thriller Heat, the first film that Statham and Chasman produced under their SJ Pictures imprint.
If you haven’t seen Layer Cake, which is quite possible since no one ever brings that movie up, then check out the nifty trailer below, featuring chef mastermind Marco Pierre-White.