MIDWAY:Playing Hannibal

Lost in Showbiz reports “I’m ambitious like that, in the way I approach sequels — in that Coppola way.” Thus begins a Vin Diesel discourse on the richly nuanced fifth film in the Fast and Furious streetracing franchise, which will probably be called Fast and Furiouserer. But has he even loftier ambitions?

Oh, I know we all adored him in xXx, where he played Xander Cage, an extreme sports nut who is recruited by the United States National Security Agency — and in The Pacifier, where he played a Navy Seal who has to go undercover as a nanny.

But what does Vin dream of? Elephants, is the answer: Vin Diesel dreams of playing history’s best-loved elephant-borne military strategist. For years, he has been obsessed with playing Hannibal, in a vanity project so ill-advised it would easily outstrip Cool As Ice, Vanilla Ice’s rap-themed 1991 remake of Rebel Without A Cause.

Mainly because Hannibal the Conqueror would cost only marginally less than an independent

nuclear deterrent.

Four years ago, a rueful Vin told reporters: “I got a budget back from a

studio that said it would cost $217m.

So I said, “I know I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but $217m — doesn’t that mean this film will never get made?”

Don’t be silly, Vin. Who wouldn’t want to be the studio executive who gets to say: “I just greenlit a $217m Vin Diesel vehicle”?

Agonisingly, though, the project has remained on the shelf, so just imagine Lost in Showbiz’s delight at Vin’s announcement that he is to make Hannibal as a massively multiplayer online game.

“You create an avatar that lives in the reality of Hannibal Barca, the Punic wars and life 200 BC,” he informs his public.

“I would love to play as a Carthaginian soldier 200 years before Christ. Sailing around the Mediterranean, that’d be pretty damn cool. If you could add some historical elements to it, the better . . .”

The better, but not necessary, because the message is already clear. Never stop believing. Vin Diesel will indeed give us his platform-neutral Hannibal, and the world just got

a little sunnier.