Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Robert Ludlum - The Matarese Circle - book & film

I've read (and truly enjoyed) a number of Robert Ludlum novels. He's had a bit of a hit and miss record with Hollywood adaptations but which acclaimed author can't complain of having had his work mauled by Hollywood? In the same way the film version Blade Runner has little to do with Philip K Dick's DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP, the series of Jason Bourne films have little to do with the family man of the JASON BOURNE series of books. Blade Runner and the Bourne films, I might add, are among my favourite films.

I was less happy with the Jason Bourne trilogy sequels by Eric Van Lustbader. He just didn't have the 'voice' and his efforts sorta put me off trying to read other writers' efforts to continue the Robert Ludlim universe. I had the same gut reaction upon trying to read the DUNE series continuations or prequels done by Frank Herbert's son Bryan, co-written with Kevin J. Anderson. A writer's voice is such a difficult thing to emulate but is ESSENTIAL to anyone familiar with such for a continuation to be convincing.

I've currently gone back to the seventies to read Robert Ludlum's THE MATARESE CIRCLE, about a secret assassination cabal who are cashing in their political chips to inherit the earth via a ruthless tactical endgame of global terrorism, and it's a delight to read. Ludlum obviously has fun writing these conspiracy thrillers, his boyish joy just leaps off the page. As a writer-reader, the double bonus is he knows how to use the English language to construct sentences, paragraphs, characters and scenarios to craft amazingly lucid stories.

MGM and Relativity Media (via Captivate Entertaiment who are handling Ludlum's literary back catalogue) picked up the rights to THE MATARESE CIRCLE for $3 million in 2008, it was scheduled for a 2010 release. Denzel Washington was attached to star as the CIA agent Brandon Scofield. Tom Cruise was pencilled in to star as KGB agent Vasili Taleniekov. Writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (who scripted WANTED) were wrote a script but both the film's stars and attached director David Cronenberg were unhappy with the result. Everyone's waiting on a Cronenberg rewrite. Having recently enjoyed Cronenberg's Eastern Promises about the Russian community in London, I'm really looking forward to MGM overcoming their financial woes, pulling their finger out and getting THE MATERESE CIRCLE in the can for a 2013 release.

August 31st update: SPOILER ALERT : SPOILER ALERT : SPOILER ALERT
I'm gonna bust the novel's narrative resolution wide open now in discussion of why (maybe now) the Matarese Circle is gonna get a cinematic green light. I've read the majority of the book and must say, for something written in the late 70's, it's hauntingly contemporary.

Why?

I just can't help thinking of what's going to happen to President Barack Hussein Obama in 2012. In Ludlum's book, the President-to-be is implicated in a centuries-old terror regime that's going to see a truly Corporate Government rule this planet, a New World Order. President-to-be is outed before making it to the White House but it's all a little too close to the bone of current global conspiracy. One wonders what will happen to Obama in 2012 if accusations about his ties to the CIA, Crown Agents and Kenyan origins in his presidential ascendancy get a foothold come re-election. One also ponders the release date of this movie adaptation, 2013.

Remember, Cronenberg was involved in the film THE DEAD ZONE where a psychic kills the president after finding out he's going to start world war three. I'd love to see a working copy of the script Cronenberg is rewriting, I wonder how historically illustrative of the downfall of Shepherd Obama it is allowed to be.

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