Meet Simon Crane. He's got huge balls. Obviously, we're not talking about actual testicular size per se — you could have a rhinoceros penis and elephant nards for all we know. No, we're talking about nerves of steel.
And he's got 'em.
Crane has signed on to helm the big screen version of the Kane & Lynch film. While this might be his feature film directing debut, he's got stuntman experience out the whazoo.
After getting his big break as a stunt man on the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill, he worked his way up to Timothy Dalton's stunt double in License to Kill — and in the meantime cutting his teeth doing stunts for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Willow and Aliens. The British-born Crane would go on to double for Mel Gibson in Air America and for Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
But it was in the 1993 Sylvester Stallone film Cliffhanger that Simon Crane executed the most expensive stunt ever: It cost a reported US$1 million dollars to have him do the air-to-air transfer stunt, one of the film's centerpieces. As website IMDB points out, the stunt was filmed in the USA, because such a stunt is illegal in Europe. Crane was suspended on a rope 15,000 ft up between two planes — and without any safety devices! The film's insurance company would not underwrite the stunt. Stallone offered to take a reduce fee for appearing in the film so that it would be possible to execute the stunt.
The stunt itself made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most expensive aerial stunt ever performed. It was performed only once — and successfully.
Crane went on to do stunts and act as stunt coordinator for a variety of films, including GoldenEye, Titanic and Saving Private Ryan. He also worked his way up to second unit director on a variety of films.
While he is not stranger to video game movies (he was the stunt coordinator for the Lara Croft films), he just might be able to pull off the Kane & Lynch film version. There have a been a couple of choices regarding that movie that seem very smart — such as bringing in Jamie Foxx, instead of finding an actor that looks exactly like the in-game counterpart. Bringing in Jamie Foxx is inspired casting — perhaps he is better to bring the essence of the character than simply an actor that looks the part.
And by making such a bold casting decision, out of the gate, Kane & Lynch can focus on being a good movie and not simply a good "video game movie". Gamers are picky and difficult to please, and bringing in Foxx shows, right up front, that all your minutia video game complaints go out the window.
The film's ad campaign also looks smart. It focuses on mood and less on movie stars. During the late 1990s, Miramax films pretty much destroyed the art of movie posters. Horror flick Scream and its sequels were smash hits, and the posters featured a collage of actor's headshots. (The original one-sheet poster for the first Scream was okay!)
The perceived marketing success of Scream lead to Miramax ditching this hand-painted Jackie Brown poster...
...and go with this boring Scream-style one instead. While this is an awful scan of the painted Jackie Brown poster, the actual work itself is stunning. Unfortunately, during the late 1990s, many of Miramax's posters were in that Scream-style.
The cool thing about the Kane & Lynch teaser poster is that, design-wise, it is a striking image. It creates a feeling, instead of simply showing a line-up of moive stars. It doesn't rely on a Scream-style movie star headshot to build excitement. Granted, this might change as the publicity machine kicks into high gear. (And then the ad campaign could get horribly pedestrian.)
While it's possible that none of these decisions were made by Crane, there is still something to be said about a middle aged stuntman who has worked his way up the studio ladder by putting his life on the line day in and day out. This is his big chance. Hope he doesn't blow it.