After postponing production on Robopocalypse indefinitely, Steven Spielberg has found his next project. And it's a timely one.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spielberg will direct American Sniper, based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who became a military assassin and recorded more kills than any other American. Bradley Cooper has been developing the project; he will serve as a producer and play the title role. Jason Hall has completed a script, and production is tentatively scheduled to begin early in 2014.
Spielberg put Robopocalypse on hold back in January, stating that he "found a better way to tell the story more economically but also much more personally. .. I'm starting on a new script and we'll have this movie back on its feet soon... I'm working on it as we speak." Theoretically, Spielberg could finish up work on the script for Robopocalypse and then move on to American Sniper. Or he could just leave the robo-action flick for another director to pursue.
Spielberg has not tackled anything approaching contemporary life -- without a fantasy or science-fiction angle -- since ... forever. The Terminal (2004) was set in the modern day, but that verges on fantasy territory. Otherwise, you have to go back to the beginning of his career, with The Sugarland Express and Jaws.
Kyle's military career stretched from 1999 to 2009, so on that score, this is potentially fascinating territory for Spielberg. Clearly he has respect for the military, so that's not an issue, but can he get out of his own way, as a director, as he tried to do with last year's Lincoln?
I'm not completely sold on Bradley Cooper as a dramatic actor; he still seems too mannered and exhibits a limited range without knowing how best to take advantage of his screen personality. That being said, American Sniper sounds like a much more interesting project now.
As a postscript, Kyle was killed at a Texas firing range in February by a fellow former military veteran he was endeavoring to help.