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Die Like Lovers: 7 Things To Know About The Upcoming Thriller From Jesse Atlas

Bruce Willis in Die Hard 5
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

One thing I love about sci-fi is the seemingly endless possibilities of the genre. Some sci-fi is big and bombastic, while other sci-fi foregoes the tropes and instead focuses on ideas. And then, you have sci-fi that potentially does both, like up-and-coming director, Jesse Atlas, and his new film, Die Like Lovers, starring Bruce Willis. The upcoming film is actually a feature length version of a short film Atlas co-wrote and directed back in 2017 titled, Let Them Die Like Lovers.

Atlas is no stranger to crafting high-concept sci-fi on a limited budget as one of his earliest films was a 10 minute short titled Record/Play, which starred Luke Cage’s, (And soon Cowboy Bebop’s) Mustafa Shakir. “Record/Play” was a twisty time travel tale involving a Walkman of all time travel devices if you can believe it. And it just goes to show that sci-fi is a genre that is always evolving and expanding, and all it takes is a fresh new voice to help make it grow. So, with that said, here are a few things we currently know about Atlas’s upcoming sci-fi thriller, Die Like Lovers.

Bruce Willis in Looper

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

The Film Is About a Male Body Hopping Assassin 

Die Like Lovers is not the first sci-fi film to feature people body-swapping. Invasion of the Body Snatchers of course featured aliens taking over people’s bodies and posing as humans. And John Carpenter’s The Thing was all about the horrors of an alien that would take over somebody else’s host body without other people knowing. But both those films were about aliens and were sci-fi horror pictures. Atlas’ film is instead a thriller about a black ops soldier who takes the place of his slain comrade to hunt down the person who killed him.

And according to an article by Deadline, he does this by actually taking his dead friend’s body. Now, the emphasis is on the word “his” since the body swapper in this version is apparently a man. We’re not entirely sure if the man in question is going to be played by Bruce Willis, but I’ll get to that in a few.

Alexa on ice

(Image credit: Tribeca Film Festival)

Now, here’s the tricky thing about this new movie. The original short film that Die Like Lovers is based off of was a short film that screened at the Tribeca Film Festival called Let Them Die Like Lovers. In this short, which you can watch here, the movie stars a woman named Alexa, played by Angela Lewis, who gets into a bathtub full of ice while her lover (played by Mustafa Shakir) helps her jump from body to body to assassinate targets.

But I say it’s tricky since the new film also stars Mustafa Shakir in this film. Amazon’s Upload’s Andy Allo, also has a role in the film, so it isn’t quite clear how closely this new feature-length film will follow the short film’s premise. It just currently looks like the protagonist will be gender-swapped this time. But in a movie about switching bodies, who knows? Anything is possible.

Jesse Atlas talking

(Image credit: YouTube)

The Film Will Be Jesse Atlas's Feature Length Film Debut

As mentioned earlier, Jesse Atlas has been cutting his teeth on shorts for a while now, like 2008’s Now and Nowhere, 2012’s Record/Play, and 2014’s Kinesthesia. But it was 2017’s Let Them Die Like Lovers that garnered the most attention. Atlas isn’t just a talented director, though, as he’s also a writer. 

He co-wrote both Let Them Die Like Lovers and Die Like Lovers with Aaron Wolfe, who he also co-wrote Record/Play with. Shorts and feature length films are entirely different mediums, but a concept like body hopping soldiers definitely lends itself to feature length. So, it will be interesting to see Atlas try his hand at a much longer project with his writing partner.

Mustafa Shakir in Cowboy Bebop

(Image credit: EW.com)

Bruce Willis, Nomzamo Mbatha, and Mustafa Shakir Are All Set To Star In The Film

The most interesting aspect of this new film is the star power that Bruce Willis lends to the story. This is only speculation, but the idea lends itself that Bruce Willis will likely be one of the body hopping assassins, if not the lead character. Interestingly, Mustafa Shakir, whose star has risen quite a bit since he starred in Atlas’ shorts Record/Play and Let Them Die Like Lovers, had the role of the person who would send his lover into different bodies. 

So, whether he has a similar role in this film is still up in the air. As is Coming 2 America’s Nomzamo Mbatha’s role in the film. We just know that Andy Allo and Dominic Purcell also have roles in the film, making for a unique and interesting cast.

Bruce Willis with a steely eyed glare

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

The Movie Was Filming In Alabama During Summer 2021

According to AL.com, filming was underway in Alabama in June 2021, and most notably in the Birmingham area. Funnily enough, according to a Facebook post from Mt. Doom Paintball Field (via MCTV), located in Hanceville, AL, they were called on to provide green gas to operate an airsoft gun. Now, Hanceville is about a 43-minute drive from Birmingham, and according to the post, Ms. Atlas made the trip out there to pick up the gas. It just shows that Die Like Lovers looks to be a family effort. All hands on deck.

Mustafa Shakir staring off into the distance.

(Image credit: Amazon.com)

The Movie Once Went By The Title, Soul Assassin

According to the same Deadline article from before, Die Like Lovers was, for a time, going by the title, Soul Assassin. We’re not quite sure why the film went from the short’s title, Let Them Die Like Lovers, to Soul Assassin, and now, to Die Like Lovers, but we do know that Soul Assassin is the title of a 2001 thriller starring Scream’s, Skeet Ulrich. We’re not sure if Die Like Lovers title was changed to avoid confusion, but we do like the connection to the original short. Plus, Die Like Lovers is just a really cool name.

Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Director Believes He Has A “Dream Team” With This Cast

Lastly, Jesse Atlas believes he has a “dream team” with this cast. In a recent Instagram post, the director is seen posing with Bruce Willis and Mustafa Shakir, and he tagged other actors including Andy Allo, Dominic Purcell, and Nomzamo Mbatha. He also comments on how he couldn’t be happier to have such a cast since this is his first feature length film. So, it’s just good to see the director making the most of the great cast that he has, where the love appears to be mutual.

And that’s it. Seven things that we currently know about the upcoming film Die Like Lovers starring Bruce Willis. But if you want to see more of the talented Jesse Atlas, you can catch him at this year’s Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival coming up on October 29-31 where he will be on the judging committee for other fascinating sci-fi films. He’s a busy, busy man.

Rich Knight

Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.