Fresh off an Oscar nomination for his terrific drama First Reformed, filmmaker Paul Schrader has found his next leading man. Per Variety, Oscar Isaac will star in the revenge thriller The Card Counter, written and to be directed by Schrader. The story follows a gambler and former serviceman named William Tell who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past. The official synopsis continues as follows: Tell just wants to play cards. His spartan existence on the casino trail is shattered when he is approached by Cirk, a vulnerable and angry young man seeking help to execute his plan for revenge on a military colonel. Tell sees a chance at redemption through his relationship with Cirk. Gaining backing from mysterious gambling financier La Linda, Tell takes Cirk with him on the road, going from casino to casino until the unlikely trio set their sights on winning the World Series of poker in Las Vegas. But keeping Cirk on the straight-and-narrow proves impossible, dragging Tell back into the darkness of his past.
The project will be shopped by HanWay Films at the upcoming American Film Market, but filming is scheduled to begin early next year. Schrader was originally intending on following First Reformed up with a neo-meta Western remake of the 1956 film Seven Men from Now starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe.
Hawke left the film when he finally got financing for his passion project, a TV series based on the life of John Brown, and now it appears that Schrader has moved on from that Western (for now) and is instead setting his sights on a revenge gambling drama.
Frankly he couldn’t ask for a better leading man than Isaac. While the general public is probably most familiar with Isaac from the Star Wars movies, the guy consistently delivers challenging, haunted turns in films like Ex Machina and Annihilation, and he gave one of the best performances of the decade in the underrated Coen Brothers masterpiece Inside Llewyn Davis.