Three thoughts about the widely respected Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives Of Others) being chosen to direct The Tourist, a Spyglass-produced espionage thriller starring Angelina Jolie, with filming expected to begin next February for a 2011 spring/summer release.

The first thought is “excellent news.” Florian, whom I personally know (and who’s been living in Los Angeles since, I think, sometime in early ’07), is a brilliant, gracious and good-natured fellow, and it’s a good thing (and frankly about time) that he’s landed the proverbial follow-up gig.

The second thought or question, really, is why did it take the director-writer of one of the finest adult dramas of the 21st Century (a political thriller plus a deeply emotional love story) between 30 and 36 months to firm up the right project?

If you’ve directed a great award-winning film (Lives took ’07’s Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar for 2007) and you’re in Los Angeles and haven’t been in Argentina writing a 2,000-page novel, you’re supposed to lock your next film down within six months to a year — certainly no more than 18 months hence. Two years is almost certainly pushing it, and if you’re still mulling things over as the three-year mark approaches…well, you know.

Florian told me last year that he was grappling with The 28th Amendment, a Tom Clancy-esque Washington, D.C. thriller written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (and commonly referred to as “The Firm within the White House”). It was reported last March that Warner Bros. had finally given the green-light to the stalled/troubled project with von Donnersmarck set to direct. But nothing further’s been announced over the last six months. Is Amendment kaput again?

There’s a 28th Amendment/Phillip Noyce/Angelina Jolie fate factor within this latest Von Donnersmarck story.

Roughly 18 months ago Noyce was planning to direct The 28th Amendment with Tom Cruise starring as the U.S. President, but WB was feeling a bit skittish at the time about the couch-jumping factor. Then Noyce shifted over to Edwin A. Salt, a high-throttle spy thriller with Cruise as a supposed Soviet assassin, but Cruise left that project and Jolie stepped in as a female version of the same character. The Sony-produced film, which Noyce and Jolie wrapped a month or so ago, is now called Salt.

And now Von Donnersmack is joining Jolie on The Tourist, another spy thriller that Noyce, one imagines, could have easily directed. It’s about a female Interpol agent “who draws an unwitting American tourist (Sam Worthington) into her attempt to locate a criminal who was once her lover,” per a Variety synopsis.

Sam Worthington?