The Russo brothers bowed out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in spectacular fashion, directing the highest-grossing movie of all-time and drawing the Infinity Saga to an epic conclusion with Avengers: Endgame. Next year’s crime thriller Cherry starring Tom Holland marks the first time since 2006’s You, Me and Dupree that the siblings have stepped behind the camera for a feature film that hasn’t involved superheroes and spandex, but they’ve also branched out into producing through their AGBO company.
AGBO has only been in existence for a couple of years, but the outfit has already explored a wide range of genres from Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation to Extraction, Netflix’s most popular original movie ever, while the Russos also produced Chadwick Boseman thriller 21 Bridges and this year’s acclaimed dramatic horror Relic.
Next up is true-life tale Mosul, which hit Netflix on Thursday. Based on a New Yorker article, the gripping and achingly authentic movie follows a rookie cop paired up with an elite SWAT team in the battle-ravaged streets of the titular Iraqi city. Filmed entirely in Arabic, Mosul marks the directorial debut of World War Z and Deepwater Horizon writer Matthew Michael Carnahan.
We Got This Covered recently had the chance to ask producer Joe Russo about the creative process, and how he and brother Anthony had settled on their next slate of projects, and here’s what he shared:
We grew up on genre, we were genre junkies as kids, and I think that there’s a way that you can Trojan Horse ideas into genre in a way that you can’t with other types of storytelling, which people are compelled to watch because of the genre elements of it. So I think that elevated genre is something we aspire to, because you can infuse it with thematics, or politics, or issues that people wouldn’t want to address normally outside of the story. I think if you look at the way Relic deals with Alzheimer’s, you can sit and have a conversation with someone about Alzheimer’s that may be more comfortable than the way that the film can convey to you a profound message about losing someone you love with dignity and grace. Same with Mosul, we’re trying to tell a story about an under-represented culture using genre techniques like you see in traditional war films.
This is all true, but if it makes it compulsively watchable for Western audiences so that they can empathize with it, and be part of that story and understand that story, then all the better for it if it gets more people to watch it and understand it. I think that we don’t have a conscious agenda outside of, as you mentioned, are we excited about the project? Are we excited about the filmmaker behind the project? Are we excited about what they’re trying to say? Each of those movies that you mentioned, in their own right, have their own political agendas and thematic agendas regarding issues that we feel are important or under-serviced.
Mosul was only picked up by Netflix last month, and looks set to find a huge audience on the world’s biggest streaming service. For more on the film, you can check out exclusive interview with writer and director Matthew Michael Carnahan, who offers up plenty of insight into tackling such a unique action-heavy thriller in a foreign language for his first feature.