The big-screen version of Mandrake has seen more casting changes than a movie with lots of casting changes. Okay, so there hasn’t been all that many, just a couple, actually. The film was originally supposed to star real-life magician Criss Angel, but he got bumped for Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and now according to Comingsoon, Rhys Meyer has been bumped for “Jumper” star Hayden Christensen, who will take over the lead. Also in the cast will be Djimon Hounsou (“Push”), probably playing a CIA type chasing Mandrake, the role he’s played in the last few movies. So why would the CIA be chasing Mandrake? The below synopsis explains why:
Jackson Mandrake lives life on the edge. Working as an underground magician and escapologist, his act has grown increasingly dangerous. Following a daring escape from an SUV that has been dropped out of an plane at the Burning Man Festival, he is coerced by the CIA into breaking a deep-cover agent named Xi Shing Lung out of a maximum security jail. Hypnosis, contortion, distraction and technical wizardry all come into play as Mandrake breaks the agent out from the inside within a 24-hour deadline.
But back on the outside, Mandrake learns that it was all a set-up. Xi is a CIA agent gone bad. He offers Mandrake the chance to join his crime ring. When Mandrake refuses, he’s a marked man. He must escape his would-be-killers and also the real CIA who accuse him of being in league with Xi. His quest to clear his name leads him into all sorts of dangers, which he must overcome with daredevil escapes that require all his conjuring skills. And along the way, Mandrake is forced to confront his past and the girl he left behind…
So Mandrake isn’t some magician from the olden days with real powers, he’s just some escape artist played by that guy from “Star Wars”? Okey doke. This movie just sounded less interesting. In fact, it sounds a lot like the Vin Diesel movie “xXx”, but with fake magic instead of stupid stunts.
Plus, the title is now simply “Mandrake”, and the tagline is: “Crime is an illusion”. Mimi Leder (“Deep Impact”) will now direct from a script by Josh Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly, JV Hart, and Ian Jeffers.
Below: Say goodbye to the top hat, Mandrake. That’s so yesterday.