Do you know how much I love character piece movies about assassins? Well I would kill for them, literally. One of my favourite movies last year was Anton Corbijn’s methodically paced, quiet ‘hitman who wants to quit’ Euro-thriller The American starring George Clooney and it rekindled my love for the genre. The American was the movie I had long hoped and long campaigned in the early days of what was then Obsessed With Film for how Hollywood should have adapted the awesome video game Hitman.
That load of tripe 20th Century Fox eventually churned out with Timothy Olyphant was nothing compared to it’s video game predecessor… but we’ve had long conversations on this site lately about the trouble Hollywood has for understanding how best to adapt games to film.
Anyway you can’t change the past and it’s time to support another exciting project. Variety excitedly reported last night that Brad Pitt is in talks to lead James Gray’s assassin thriller The Gray Man, based on Mark Greaney’s book and adapted for the screen by Adam Cozad, writer of Paramount’s stalling Jack Ryan reboot.
The Gray Man would follow Pitt as a former CIA operative now super assassin who is on the run across Europe protecting his handler and his handler’s family from special forces teams from a multinational corporation who have targeted them for death. But in a unique twist to freshen up the genre (and to make it feel different to the very similar Bourne Identity movies), Gray has cited his intent to shoot the whole movie from the P.O.V. of his lead character.
We have been told to imagine the car chase from Gray’s We Own The Night (where it was from the POV of Joaquin Phoenix) but for the majority of the film. Gray said in January;
“Almost every shot was from Joaquin’s point of view, inside that car, and I want to make a whole movie with that POV,”
Pretty cool, right?
Though we should remind ourselves this isn’t the first cool sounding project Pitt & Gray have threatened to make with each other. For the past few years they were trying to get an adaptation of The Lost City of Z off the ground, a Lawrence of Arabia/Indiana Jones explorer epic in the South American jungle but couldn’t agree on a budget/pay deal with Paramount. Just another to add to the pile of awesome unrealised projects.
The Gray Man then is a 20th Century Fox and New Regency production and there’s no word on when camera’s might roll but it may well end up being the next film for Pitt after he is finished with the zombie epic World War Z, which is filming in Glasgow this week.
Meanwhile we had expected Gray to be shooting Low Life with Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner that was announced in June but presumably that has been delayed over a failure to get everyone’s schedules to fit.
Let’s hope The Gray Man gets rolling soon for purely selfish reasons because it sounds right up my street. Pitt would be playing an assassin for the first time since the very differently themed Mr. & Mrs. Smith;
This article was first posted on August 16, 2011