While audiences have been concentrating on arguing for a Black Widow movie, Academy Award winner Charlize Theron has been quietly putting together the next best thing – a female-led Cold War action movie based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, by British writer Antony Johnston and artist Sam Hart. While Theron is set to star and produce, the project has taken on a whole new dimension with the announcement of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski as directors – bringing with them their impressive John Wick reputation. Focus Features has now snapped up the distribution rights ahead of the Cannes Film Festival.
Published in 2012, The Coldest City is set within the intelligence community two days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The central character is a traumatized MI6 agent named Lorraine Broughton, who becomes embroiled in efforts to locate and retrieve a list of every intelligence operative working in Berlin – for all parties – after her colleague is killed for it. As the tale unfolds, Broughton discovers shifting allegiances, mistrust and betrayal amid the complex politics of the city.
While the plot of The Coldest City is not entirely dissimilar to that of 1996’s Mission: Impossible, the exciting thing here is the production of a high profile female-led, female-produced, graphic novel-based film, with hot-ticket directors Leitch and Stahelski attached. In addition, the announcement of the film – scripted by Kurt Johnstad (300: Rise Of An Empire) – bucks what has long been the convention in Hollywood that a failed female-led movie precludes any future attempts at the same.
We have repeatedly seen that male-led action movies can fail completely, with little or no damage to the chances of those filmmakers involved getting another shot. Female filmmakers, however, are rarely afforded that generosity. While Charlize Theron is set to ride through a spectacular summer with Mad Max: Fury Road, she has long been haunted by the spectre of Aeon Flux – so the fact that the actress is now set to lead another action movie of her own is a noteworthy development indeed.
The Coldest City is due to begin shooting in Germany in October, so further casting announcements should appear soon.