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'We Own the Night' Director to Adapt Spy Thriller 'The Gray Man'

by
January 14, 2011
Source: Deadline

The Gray Man / James Gray

Though his work on Two Lovers may have been overshadowed by the film's star Joaquin Phoenix who decided to begin faking crazy for the faux documentary I'm Still Here, director James Gray has taken it all in stride. Now Deadline reports the We Own the Night helmer is set to direct an adaptation of The Gray Man, a CIA thriller novel from Mark Greaney. Written by Adam Coazd (the same screenwriter behind Moscow, the Jack Ryan franchise reboot), the story follows a former CIA operative-turned ultimate assassin who is forced to fight his way across Europe and past special forces teams from around the world. Why? Find out below!

The assassin has been targeted by a multi-national corporation and the life of his handler and their family is in danger. This will be Gray's first real foray into action, and while this sounds like another Jason Bourne franchise imitation, the director says he has a specific plan to distinguish it from the successful Universal  series. Gray elaborates, ""What [Paul Greengrass] 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."

The director references a scene in We Own the Night in which Joaquin Phoenix watches from the back seat of a car as his police chief father is gunned down by assassins. Gray says, ""Almost every shot was from Joaquin's point of view, inside that car, and I want to make a whole movie with that POV." That somewhat reminds me of the way Spielberg framed War of the Worlds in that we didn't experience anything that Tom Cruise's character didn't see for himself. It did away with the epic scale of seeing the tripod alien ships near the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Big Ben in London that we've seen in plenty of other alien invasion films.

It should be interesting to see Gray's take on the hitman character, but a confirmed leading man still hasn't been revealed. We heard last November that Brad Pitt was apparently circling the project, but if Andrew Dominik's adaptation of Cogan's Trade takes off first, that will likely take him away from the starring role in The Gray Man. I'd like to see Pitt in a role like this, but there's plenty of great actors our there who could do something fantastic with the role. What do you think?

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  • tir na nog
    We own the night is a fine film.
    • Shane
      Agreed. Painfully overlooked. I was surprised at how incredible that movie was.
  • Bo
    I can see Phoenix be very good in this too.
    • Bo
      Phoenix in a bit better shape than that in his latest film course. :)

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