As 2010 came to a close, things looked a little bleak for director James Gray. The long-gestating adaptation of "The Lost City Of Z" with Brad Pitt attached to star fell apart when the actor left the project (there should be a support group started for directors burned by Pitt leaving their projects) and rumors swirled that Gray had butted heads with Paramount over how much he should be paid. Well, Gray has put that all behind him and is forging ahead in 2011 with a brand new project, one that is far cry from the familial tales for brotherhood in "The Yards" and "We Own The Night" and European flavor of "Two Lovers."
Deadline reports that Gray has signed on to direct the very blockbuster sounding "The Gray Man." Based on the book by Mark Greaney and penned by Adam Cozad (who also wrote the upcoming Jack Ryan reboot for Paramount) the film follows a former CIA operative-turned ultimate assassin, targeted by a powerful multinational corporation, who must fight his way across Europe and past special forces teams from around the world in order to save the life of his handler and the handler's family. And before you roll your eyes, and drum up the Jason Bourne comparisons, Gray has a very unique approach to how he will shoot the project.
Gray plans to shoot the film from the perspective of the assassin, citing the excellent car chase sequence from "We Own The Night" as an example of what audiences can expect from the film. "Almost every shot was from Joaquin's point of view, inside that car, and I want to make a whole movie with that POV," Gray said. He adds that while he admires Paul Greengrass' approach on the 'Bourne' films, he wants to go in a totally different direction. "What he did was a documentary-style objective approach, and he owns that style. I want to do the opposite, which feels like a good way to sympathize with a professional hitman. You humanize him by never distancing yourself from his experience. This story has emotional stakes that enable me to do that."
Frankly, it sounds great, and Gray has a completely underrated visual eye that has served him well in his dramatic features and we excited to see what he'll bring to the table in straight up action thriller. The project is set up at New Regency though it's not yet known exactly when it will go in front of cameras. The script is undergoing a rewrite by Cozad and will be Gray's next picture, though he also has his own "personal" project he's writing also in the works. Here's the book synopsis from Amazon and you can check out the chase sequence from "We Own The Night" below:
In Greaney's fast-paced, fun debut thriller, Court The Gray Man Gentry, a former CIA operative now renowned as the ultimate killer for hire, is on the job in Syria and Iraq. To his shock, he learns that a team sent in to rescue him now has him targeted for elimination. On the run, Gentry slowly realizes that huge forces are marshaling against him, from his former government to the one man in England he always trusted. With unbelievable powers of survival, the Gray Man eludes teams of killers and deadly traps, while the reader begins to cheer for this unlikely hero. Cinematic battles and escapes fill out the simplistic but satisfying plot, and Greaney deftly provides small details to show Gentry's human side, offset by the petty rivalries and greed of his enemies.