Anthony Mackie Goes From Falcon to Legal Eagle Johnnie Cochran For Police Brutality Movie
Been a big year for Johnnie Cochran, considering the skilled lawyer passed away in 2005. We all thought the full extent of his posthumous popularity spike would be a mention on track one, side one of a Kanye West studio record, but then along came American Crime Story three years later to turn him into a household name once more. Courtney B. Vance’s electrifying performance as the de facto lead prosecutor in O.J. Simpson’s highly public murder trial renewed America’s interest in the courtroom procedural, and what’s more, it proved that a black attorney could anchor a show with no trouble. Vance’s Cochran may have used some dirty tricks to win the O.J. trial, but regardless of whether audiences love him or love to hate him, he’s grown into a prominent historical figure.
Today brings the news that Cochran will appear onscreen once again, this time jumping from TV to the movies, and trading Vance for Anthony Mackie. Deadline has the exclusive that Mackie, known primarily for his recurring role as the Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will swap his superpowered suit for a regular power suit in a film about the explosive Signal Hill police brutality trial. In 1981, Cal State undergrad Ron Settles was picked up for speeding in Los Angeles’ Signal Hill neighborhood. That night, he was found in his cell, dead of an apparent hanging. The police were eager to rule the death a cut-and-dried suicide, but after Cochran exhorted Settles’ family to exhume the body for an autopsy, it was revealed that the young man had been choked to death. This story had a relatively satisfying ending, with a $760,000 settlement and a resignation from the chief of police, though the most satisfying story would probably be one where the LAPD doesn’t murder a young black man.
Mackie will bring life to this story in a still-untitled film, currently trying his hand at historical-channeling with a role as Martin Luther King in HBO’s upcoming All the Way. The production still needs a director as well, though Lucifer staff writer David McMillan has already drawn up a script. The Signal Hill case certainly provides a thrilling narrative with plenty of social significance, but regrettably, it lacks the powerful rhyming-phrases component that made the O.J. trial such a spectacle. If this project wants to stand comparison to American Crime Story, it’ll need a catchphrase as snappy as “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” Maybe something like “black youths die when the five-oh lies!” That’s just spitballing, I’m not a writer. Of screenplays, anyway.