Is this the Akira situation all over again? You might remember that a few months ago, when Warner Bros. was really trying to get the live-action version of Akira going under the direction of Albert Hughes, there were a great many stories about how the studio wanted to cast the film. The primary thrust seemed to be that the teenage characters in the original manga and anime were going to be significantly older in the live-action version. That all became a non-issue when Hughes bowed out and the film was slowed-down as it was re-budgeted and set up for Jaume Collet-Serra to direct, however.

The same thing could be happening again, however, with the adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka‘s All You Need is Kill, for which Brad Pitt is reportedly being sought.

Now, first thing: it’s Brad Pitt, and everyone wants Brad Pitt. So even with Doug Liman set to direct the film, let’s not assume that Pitt will end up starring.

But the protagonist of All You Need is Kill is a young soldier in a futuristic war against aliens. He is killed in a massive battle, but wakes up alive once more, eighteen hours or so before he was killed. Yeah, think Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day. Here’s how I recapped the script some time ago:

The young solider is a lackluster fighter at first, but he becomes caught in a Groundhog Day-style time loop, and has to relive the battle over and over. It isn’t as repetitive as the basic idea sounds, however, as the solider realizes his predicament and starts to approach it almost like a video game in which he has infinite lives. Basically take that ‘Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day’ idea and infuse it with a healthy videogame sensibility.

Key there being ‘young.’ Brad Pitt is not young. The script was expensive and the film will be expensive, and the studio likely wants someone who’ll be able to provide a real assist at the box office. There aren’t many young actors who can do that. A better idea: cast young, and sell the idea, and things will work. The script isn’t bad; it has a good, propulsive energy and some great action, so there’s material to work with. But from a financing and sales perspective, Pitt would make things easier, even if he’s not right for the role. And he’s not, since he’s twenty years too old.

Vulture reports WB’s interest in Pitt, and also says that rewrites have fixed some third act issues. Specifically, the site says,

…it begins to play like a big-screen version of Halo, where the protagonist dispatches aliens in the same rote way as a twelve year old who’s played too much X-Box 360. We’re told, however, that a new draft of the Kill script has resolved this to the studio’s satisfaction.

Thing is, that gaming influence wasn’t the problem with the third act. That was the fun part. The character becomes a real badass, but you get the sense of him having earned it. I say this as someone who loves games, but thinks that most gaming influence in film is articulated in very much the wrong way. Kill seems like it has the potential to work, even in the 18-month old draft I read.

There were other problems — not huge ones, but still problems — and we’ll hope that while the focus might have been on livening up the action, maybe the character and plotting bits that stuck for me were also fixed. (And maybe the new third act really is a lot better, from an action perspective.)

Vulture also says that this all comes about after David Ellison’s Skydance Productions decided not to co-finance Doug Liman’s Paramount-housed film Luna, about a heist in space. That’s leading to new momentum on All You Need is Kill, since Luna had previously been the director’s main interest.

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