Michael B. Jordan is having a legitimate moment, thanks to his standout performance as the villainous Killmonger in Marvel Studios’ blockbuster Black Panther. Embodying his complex character with a righteous fury and resentment that lends twisted depth to director Ryan Coogler’s superhero hit, Jordan once again proves — in the wake of his star-making work in Coogler’s Creed — that he’s a bona fide headliner whose intensity often overshadows everything (and everyone) else onscreen. And for his next outing, he’ll be heading to HBO to deliver a turn that’s even more, ahem, fiery.
Directed by Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, 99 Homes), Fahrenheit 451 will pair Jordan with Michael Shannon in yet another adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s seminal 1953 sci-fi novel about a future America where books have been outlawed — and those that are found are promptly set ablaze by squads of government-sanctioned “firemen.” As befitting his leading-man status, Jordan will take on the role of Montag, a fireman who, despite the proselytizing of Shannon’s Chief Beatty, becomes convinced that destroying civilization’s knowledge is perhaps the wrong way to go about things and abandons his job to join an underground rebellion. That transformation, however, is barely hinted at in the above trailer, which focuses instead on establishing the world of Bradbury’s story, with Shannon’s dialogue complementing glimpses of books being ignited by flamethrowers, and of a zealous Jordan telling his superior, “I want to burn.”
Fahrenheit 451 was previously adapted for the big screen by legendary French director François Truffaut (with stars Julie Christie and Oskar Werner) in 1966, as well as turned into a play by Bradbury himself. How Bahrani’s take on the famous material stands up to those prior efforts remains to be seen. Yet with the magnetic Jordan and equally compelling Shannon leading the way, the film — co-starring Sofia Boutella, Lilly Singh, Laura Harrier, Martin Donovan, and Keir Dullea — should prove to be a can’t-miss proposition when it debuts on HBO this May.
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