Though the past few years have been somewhat rocky, Amma Asante remains one of the more exciting emerging talents to break out of the UK in the past decade or so. She completed her debut feature A Way of Life in 2004, and came into her own during the 2010s with Belle and A United Kingdom before directing the widely reviled Holocaust romance (what a phrase) Where Hands Touch in 2018.
Since that frosty reception, she’s been building her goodwill back up with directorial gigs on a pair of well-regarded TV series (The Handmaid’s Tale and Mrs. America), and now she’s ready to return to the silver screen with a project decidedly more geared to her success. A press release distributed yesterday announced that Asante’s next film will be the espionage picture The Billion Dollar Spy, and that she’s already got a pair of strapping, very tall leading men.
Mads Mikkelsen and Armie Hammer will star in the Cold War-set thriller, in which they play opposite sides of the US-Soviet conflict as they find some common ground for the good of the world. Hammer plays CIA spook Brad Reid, the operative who made contact with Russki engineer and defector Adolf Tolkachev, to be portrayed by Mikkelsen. Though they had every reason to distrust one another, they struck up a close friendship that landed both men and their wives in the crosshairs of the KGB.
The press release emphasizes the historical accuracy of the script, which draws on a book penned by the American journalist David E. Hoffman, the work that earned him his Pulitzer Prize. By the sound of it, we’re in for something in the vein of John le Carré, in which granular inside knowledge of the intelligence-gathering community’s doings will combine with paperback excitement as the clock runs out for the unlikely heroes.
Tolkachev may have been a complicated man with torn allegiances, but he’s revered as a great asset to the United States to this day, his portrait still hanging in CIA headquarters as a tribute to the man who helped end the Cold War. It took Americans a little while to warm up to the idea of liking people named Adolf again, but we got there. The film won’t commence photography in Eastern Europe until next year, so expect to see this one on the premiere slate for 2022.
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