Sep 8, 2012
Tradecraft: Doug Liman to Direct Adaptation of Olen Steinhauer's Tourist Written by Covert Affairs Duo
Last time we heard about a movie version of Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist, the novel had been snapped up at the manuscript stage by George Clooney and Grant Heslov's production company with Clooney looking to star in and/or direct. That was in 2007. Now five years have passed and a whole other spy movie called The Tourist (bearing no relation whatsoever to Steinhauer's novel) has come and gone and pretty much ruined the title for this movie, while Steinhauer has penned two excellent sequels about secret agent Milo Weaver, The Nearest Exit and An American Spy. And the rights have changed hands. Today, Deadline reports that Sony has acquired the rights to all three Milo Weaver novels for Doug Liman to direct at least the first one. That's a great match! Steinhauer's novels have cemented his reputation as being the closest thing there is today to an heir to John le Carré. (The Nearest Exit is the cleverest mole hunt novel I've read in a long, long time—or is there a mole after all? The books must be read in order, though.) They've got more action than the average le Carré yarn, but they share the master's ingenious twists, rich characters, and cynical outlook on the espionage business. And Doug Liman is one of the best espionage directors working today, having helmed The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Fair Game, and produced the USA TV series Covert Affairs. This should prove a perfect match, with the material falling somewhere between Bourne and Fair Game, taking Liman into somewhat new spy territory. And he's got good help tackling it! The trade blog reports that his Covert Affairs collaborators, series creators Matt Corman and Chris Ord, will pen the script. Again, that seems like a perfect match for the material as they've proven week after week that they're capable of telling mature, exciting spy stories grounded in reality. The writers will work on the script while Liman directs the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie All You Need is Kill, and then hopefully the director will move on to Milo Weaver. Whatever this ends up being called (since it surely can't be The Tourist now, sadly), it's just shot to the top of my list of spy projects to be excited for in the next couple of years! Steinhauer's books are the real deal, and, handled correctly, should make great movies.