Four or five years ago, when I was a film reporter for Variety, Dave McNary and I went out for drinks with Ric Roman Waugh, a veteran stuntman who was an up-and-coming director at the time, having just wrapped the Dwayne Johnson vehicle Snitch.
Waugh regaled the two of us with stories from his stuntman days, when he worked on such films as The Crow, True Romance and Total Recall, among dozens of others. In addition to hyping Snitch, he also laid out his vision for an intriguing counterfeiting drama titled Currency. I don’t know about McNary, but I drove home from the meeting thinking Waugh was a filmmaker to watch, and impressed with his transition from stuntman to writer-director.
It looks like Waugh will reward my faith (and patience) with SHOT CALLER, a new prison drama starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones. He plays a successful businessman who’s busted for DUI and sent to prison, where he must fight for his survival while learning his fellow inmates’ violent code of ethics. Transformed into a stoic gangster known as Money, he slowly loses his grasp on his own identity as well as his family, who are put in danger upon his release — which comes with a catch.
Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, Holt McCallany, Emory Cohen, Omari Hardwick, Benjamin Bratt, Evan Jones and Lake Bell co-star in Shot Caller, which is set to bow at the LA Film Festival before its released in select theaters and on VOD next month by Saban Films and Lionsgate.
Hollywood doesn’t make enough gritty prison movies for my taste (I wish someone would develop Jerry Stahl’s screenplay Prison Fish), so here’s hoping Shot Caller brings back the genre, which has thrived on television of late. I may not watch Orange Is the New Black or Prison Break, but this film looks right up my alley.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief