Plenty of German filmmakers have tried their luck in Hollywood. Some have made blockbusters; others went back home. Now, Dennis Gansel is throwing his hat in the ring with “Mechanic: Ressurection.”
It’s got popular US stars, exciting backdrops, a fast-paced storyline, and a hero with a dark side that seems clean and does everything he can to save his girlfriend from the bad guys. “Mechanic: Resurrection,” which opens Friday in US cinemas, has everything you’d expect from a typical Hollywood action film.
With its restless jumps from one exotic location to the next, it even seems a bit like a James Bond film – an association that wasn’t coincidental.
Hollywood hasn’t lost its pull
The $40-million film received some funding from France and was directed by German filmmaker Dennis Gansel. Born in 1973 in Hanover, Gansel is the latest young German director to try his luck in Hollywood: The movie capital hasn’t lost its magnetic power.
Gansel is in good company. The number of German-speaking filmmakers that have gone to Hollywood over the decades is impressive. However, not all of them came voluntarily; some were forced to flee the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.
Not all of them found happiness and were fortunate in Los Angeles. Many were artistic, sensitive characters that later decided to turn their back on Hollywood. Others, like Roland Emmerich, managed to establish themselves and rise to fame.
It’s not surprising that Dennis Gansel was also drawn to Hollywood. After completing his studies at the University of Television and Film Munich, he made six films in Germany, trying his hand at a variety of genres.
Dennis Gansel has talent in many genres
His debut film, “Das Phantom” (The Phantom), was a fast-paced police-terror thriller made for television. He followed it up in 2001 with a money-making teen comedy called “Mädchen, Mädchen” (Girls, Girls). Three years later came a Nazi drama, “Before the Fall.”
In 2008, Gansel made the sociopolitical thriller “The Wave,” which also enjoyed success in cinemas. Although his 2010 vampire film “We Are the Night” was a box-office flop, he showed that he was capable of understanding the popular horror genre.
In 2012, “The Fourth State” was a media and political thriller set in Moscow. Despite its poignantly current theme – terrorism and the East-West conflict – Gansel had difficulty financing the film. Entertainment and action don’t go over well with Germany’s film sponsorship authorities.
It looks like a James Bond film, but it’s not
So it’s not surprising that Dennis Gansel, who’s more than proven his technical directing skills, looked around for other options. In 2014, he began extensive filming for “Mechanic: Resurrection” – in Thailand, Brazil, Australia and Bulgaria.
In addition to Jason Statham and Jessica Alba in the leads, Gansel was able to get stars like Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh on board as well.
Even though his Hollywood debut has gotten off to a good start, Dennis Gansel – who recently married his girlfriend Ann-Kristin – doesn’t want to settle down in the US permanently. His next project, a polit-thriller based in Brussels, is already in planning.
He is also working on the project “Berlin, I Love You,” with directors and conductors like Oren Moverman, Marjane Satrapi, Giuseppe Tornatore and Ai Weiwei.
Gansel also has yet another film in the works – a family fantasy tale based on the famous children’s book series, “Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver.” Shirly MacLaine has been cast in the lead. Filming for the puppet classic will start in October, in Berlin and Munich.
After that, Hollywood will certainly come knocking on Gansel’s door again.