Tradecraft: Spy Hunter Redux
After a high-profile film version of Midway's classic Eighties videogame Spy Hunter failed to get off the ground at Universal several years ago, Warner Bros. is giving the title another go. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio has hired writer Chad St. John to adapt this time. St. John has a bunch of other projects in various stages of development at Warners, including a remake of the Sean Connery Space Western Outland and a new, future-set version of Sgt. Rock. Spy Hunter combines two of my very favorite things: spies and their cars. The trade summarizes the game as centering on "a highly trained spy whose job is to eliminate rogue agents when they become liabilities to their governments. He travels in a G-6155 Interceptor, a sports car tricket out with an array of weapons that frequently is challenged by enemy vehicles." I would have said it was a vertical scroller where you drive a car and shoot things. I remember the car looked about as cool as a car could look in giant, chunky pixels, and the art on the side of the arcade version made it look sort of like a combination of a Lamborghini Countach and a Lotus Esprit, which were pretty much the pinnacles of mid-Eighties transportation. (Well, except for the Ferrari Testarossa!)
Usually when a book or game is adapted to film, talk immediately turns to what actor will be chosen to star. The actor is almost beside the point in Spy Hunter; the crucial question is what car will star? The movie's success depends on the studio forging a product placement deal with the right car company. We're probably fortunate that GM no longer has the money to throw around for such frivolities, as a Camero simply wouldn't do the Interceptor justice. One likely candidate is probably the Audi R8 (which already co-starred in Iron Man), as it sort of looks the part and Audi recently signed the company that placed BMW in the Bond films in the late 90s to give them a more agressive presence in Hollywood. The Ford GT sports car would be a great option from the one American car company that might be able to afford such a deal, but sadly it was discontinued after the 2006 model year. Personally, I think the Lotus Exige best looks the part, and I'd love to see that get the role since Lotus has such an illustrious history with spy gadgets. But the Exige may not be high-end enough. If they decide to go truly exotic, you couldn't do much better than the Spyker. It almost looks as if the designers used the game for inspiration–and it's even got "spy" in the name!
The Universal version was set to star The Rock and be directed by John Woo. I believe the plan with that one was to create a car expressly for the film. That's not as interesting to me. What I like about gadget cars in spy movies is that they're actual cars you might see on the street (in Los Angeles or London, anyway, for those exotic ones) that look normal but hold all these secrets. If the car is one-of-a-kind, it might as well be a tank. It no longer matters that the gadgets are hidden, as it will stand out so much already. After Woo departed over budget issues, Paul W.S. Anderson briefly flirted with the project before deciding to make Death Race his killer car vehicle instead. None of those people are involved in Warners' fresh start.