There are two things Christian Bale seems to look for when he considers joining a film. First, he likes to work with an established, acclaimed director who'll surely pull the absolute best out of him (see Christopher Nolan, David O. Russell, Terrence Malick, Michael Mann, Todd Haynes, Werner Herzog and, um, McG). Secondly, he'll only play the role if it's a relentlessly grim character in an impossibly grim film where no one smiles or laughs. Ever.

Well, it sounds like Bale is the perfect match for 'The Creed of Violence.'

Based on a novel by Boston Teran, the project sounds pretty darn intense and right up Bale's alley. Here's the official description of the book, taken right off its back cover:

"Mexico, 1910. The landscape pulses with the force of the upcoming revolution, an atmosphere rich in opportunity for a criminal such as Rawbone. His fortune arrives across the haze of the Sierra Blanca in the form of a truck loaded with weapons.

But Rawbone’s plan spins against him, and he soon finds himself at the Mexican-American border and in the hands of the Bureau of Investigation. He is offered a chance for immunity, but only if he agrees to proceed with his scheme to deliver the truck and its goods to the Mexican oil fields while under the command of Agent John Lourdes. Rawbone sees no other option and agrees to the deal—but he fails to recognize the true identity of Agent Lourdes, a man from deep within his past.

Set against a backdrop of intrigue and corruption, The Creed of Violence is a saga about the scars of abandonment, the greed of war, and America’s history of foreign intervention for the sake of oil."

Variety reports that Bale is in negotiations to take on the role of Rabone, but it's far from a sure thing quite yet. The film is being directed by Oscar nominee Todd Field, who has been conspicuously absent (and missed) since 2006's acclaimed 'Little Children.' The story, sounds like the kind of moody project that would be of immediate interest to Bale, but it's a definite departure for Field, whose previous films have dealt with suburban drama, not violence south of the border in 1910.

Part of the reason for Field's absence was his aborted adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian,' which feels thematically similar 'The Creed of Violence.' It feels wrong to call this his consolation prize, but it wouldn't be out of order to say this feels like Field's second attempt to scratch a very particular itch.

Whether Bale joins the cast or not, this will be a film to keep your eyes on. Filming is set to begin in early 2013.