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Tommy Lee Jones joins Michelle Pfeiffer & Bob De Niro in Luc Besson's new film

Luc Besson is adapting the 2004 novel Malavita (Badfellas for the English-speaking market) by French author Tonino Benacquista, who already has had two of his novels adapted on screen (L'outremangeur and La boite noire) and he also co-wrote two of Jacques Audiard's films, Sur mes lèvres (Read my lips) and De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The beat that my heart skipped), both acclaimed by the critics and the public (my way of saying "check them out").

Now, here's the synopsis of Malavita :

A family from New Jersey moves into a villa in a small town in Normandy. Fred Blake, the father (Robert de Niro), is there to write a book on the Allied landings. His wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) works at a local charity. Their 17-year old daughter Belle is drawing all eyes at the lycée (high school) she arrives to while her 14-year old brother Warren threatens and rackets his peers at the collège (junior high school) he's in. A normal family… or so it seems, because Fred's real name is actually Giovanni Manzoni, a former mafia boss who gave information to the FBI and who is now under the agency's witness protection program.

In this action comedy, Tommy Lee Jones will play De Niro's handler, helping the Manzoni Blake family to adapt to their new life in France (source). Production of Malavita will commence on August 13 in Normandy.

It will be Luc Besson's eleventh live-action film, following French-speaking films Le dernier combat (1983), Subway (1985), Le grand bleu (1988), Nikita (1990), Angel-A (2005) & Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010), and English-speaking films Léon (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), Joan of Arc (1999) & The Lady (2011). He also directed the English-speaking animated trilogy Arthur : Arthur et les Minimoys in 2006, Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard in 2009 and Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes in 2010.

Luc Besson also wrote the "stories" of many of the action movies his company EuropaCorp produces, whether they're in English (The Transporter trilogy (2002, 2005, 2008), Kiss of the Dragon (2001), Danny the Dog (2005), Revolver (2005), Bandidas (2006), Taken (2008), Colombiana (2011), Lockout (2012)) or in French (the Taxi quadrilogy (1998, 2000, 2003, 2007), Yamakasi (2001), Wasabi (2001), Fanfan la tulipe (2003), Michel Vaillant (2003), Les rivières pourpres II (2004), Banlieue 13 (2004), Banlieue 13 Ultimatum (2009), A l'aveugle (2012)). Many of them are very expendable films (there's a reason why Besson doesn't go behind the camera himself), but they do provide old school, generous action, and solid entertainment for most of those I've seen. The formula is simple, repetitive and doesn't require any brain activity, but it kind of works. All the aforementioned films are urban actioners except, oddly enough, the two starring Pénélope Cruz, Fanfan la tulipe and Bandidas. While on the subject, Jean Reno, Lambert Wilson, Pénélope Cruz, Liam Neeson, Zoe Saldana, Guy Pierce, etc : that's not a bad bunch of leading actors/actresses (there's even Morgan Freeman in Danny the Dog).

Malavita, directed by Besson, doesn't belong to the latter category. It is scheduled for a release in France in April 2013 and I'm sure it will be released elsewhere shortly afterwards.

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