Berlinale: Liam Neeson, Studiocanal, Michael Shamberg Team for ‘Hard Powder’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Liam Neeson The Commuter
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PARIS – Liam Neeson, European group Studiocanal and producer Michael Shamberg are teaming for “Hard Powder,” a Rocky Mountains-set action revenge thriller that is likely to prove a hot ticket at next month’s Berlin Film Festival market.

Directed by Hans Petter Moland and written by Frank Baldwin, “Hard Powder” will go into production in March in and around Banff, Alberta, and other locations in Canada.

It stars Neeson as Nels, an upright snowplow driver, awarded a Citizen of the Year prize by his glitzy Colorado ski town, whose life is turned upside down when his son is murdered by a powerful local drug kingpin.

“Fueled by an unwavering drive for vengeance and armed with heavy machinery, this unlikely hero sets out to dismantle the cartel with extreme prejudice, and he’s not stopping until he gets to the top of the food chain,” “Hard Powder’s” synopsis reads.

Nels’ vengeance sparks a turf war between a Native American mafia boss and the Viking, a fastidious gangster who wears Tom Ford suits, is a vegan, drives a Tesla and murders people. This climaxes in a final showdown that leaves almost no one unscathed.

Shamberg – whose credits include “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” “Get Shorty,” “Erin Brockovich” and “Contagion” –  will produce. Studiocanal will fully finance “Hard Powder,” which is based on Moland’s Norwegian original, “In Order of Disappearance.” Studiocanal will also distribute it in its home territories of the U.K., Germany, France and  Australia/New Zealand, and sell other international territories, including the U.S., beginning at Berlin.

“Liam Neeson plays an ordinary man driven to extraordinary lengths, a hero in the mold of Clint Eastwood in ‘Unforgiven’ or Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard,’” Studiocanal said in a statement.

Building off his performances in “Taken” and “Non-Stop,” Neeson will give “a slightly more modern spin” to his “Hard Powder” character, “a touch of wry humor,” said Ron Halpern, Studiocanal EVP international production and acquisitions.

He added: “Bringing a new perspective to the lone underdog character was what attracted Liam Neeson from the very beginning.”

Moland will aim for a “cool tone and classic archetypes,” in line with “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight,” Halpern said.

“Non-Stop,” which was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and produced by Joel Silver, Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, proved Studiocanal’s second-highest-grossing movie ever, earning $222 million at the global box office.

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