Robert De Niro and Luc Besson Team for Gangster Thriller 'Malavita'
French director Luc Besson is perhaps best known for directing Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, but he's also a prolific writer and producer who is responsible for a ton of great work in the action genre. Still, I was a bit surprised when Variety reported that Besson has cast Robert De Niro in a gangster thriller called Malavita, based on Tonino Benacquista's novel Badfellas. Besson has dealt with gangsters on screen before, but never with a heavy hitter like De Niro involved. The story follows De Niro as a former mafia boss in Witness Protection living with his family in Normandy, but his cover doesn't last very long.
Besson will direct from his own script, which is somewhat of a rarity in these later days of his career (the last movie he wrote by himself and directed was 2005's Angel-A). He was all set to write and direct a big scale movie starring Angelina Jolie, but apparently that project has fallen through for now. I haven't seen any of Besson's directorial efforts since The Fifth Element back in 1997, so I'm interested to see how his style has evolved over the years, especially slipping into a genre that seems a bit more grounded than some of his other work. Malavita will mark the first time he's worked with De Niro, and with the subject matter here, it doesn't surprise me at all that the actor has jumped on board this project due. I'd personally like to see him avoid these kinds of movies for the rest of his career because, seriously dude, we get it. But whatever - more power to him. At least he's working with an interesting director. Thoughts?