Tradecraft: Jason Statham Circles Echelon
Wow, this is the week for movies and TV about former British special forces troops turned secret agents. Hot on the heels of yesterday's news about Cinemax remaking the UK TV series based on former SAS operative Chris Ryan's Strike Back comes news that Jason Statham is circling a film adaptation of a novel by Ryan's former SAS commander, Andy McNab. (Both were veterans of a disastrous operation known as Bravo Two Zero, which was chronicled in a film starring Sean Bean.) Deadline reports that Statham is close to signing on to a movie called Echelon based on McNab's book Firewall. Obviously, production company Hyde Park/Imagenation Abu Dhabi couldn't call the movie that because of the 2006 Harrison Ford film, but Echelon's kind of an overused title in the development world already! We've heard about The Echelon Vendetta (currently in development), Echelon Conspiracy and NBC's in-the-works TV series ECHELON. Ever since the NSA's massive electronic eavesdropping apparatus ECHELON went online, it's fascinated film and television writers as much as it's fascinated privacy advocates.
In this take on ECHELON, to be directed by Simon Crane (stunt coordinator on Salt and The Tourist) the software itself is the MacGuffin. Statham would play Nick Stone (a role to which Eric Bana was previously attached), a former SAS operative (of course) and freelance intelligence agent who finds himself caught between Russian gangsters and American and British agents when a mission in Helsinki goes bad. I've never read a McNab book, but Helsinki is one of my favorite backdrops for a good spy story, and after watching him flit around the periphery of the spy genre for so long with films like The Bank Job and the Transporter series, it would be mighty nice to see Jason Statham in a real secret agent role. So I hope this movie happens!