Brad Pitt is onboard to headline The Gray Man, the latest addition to the “dangerous man on the run overseas” genre, popularized by the Jason Bourne franchise.
The Gray Man will be directed by (no joke) James Gray, who was previously responsible for titles like We Own the Night and Two Lovers. However, he is planning something far different than merely another Bourne knockoff.
Adam Cozad (the Jack Ryan reboot) is scripting The Gray Man, based on Mark Greaney’s popular novel of the same name. The plot revolves around an ex-CIA op-turned-assassin who travels across Europe in order to save his handler from a sinister multinational corporation, and immediately recalls that of The Bourne Identity and Taken – among other films that feature a deadly protagonist who could kill a person using only a Q-Tip.
When Deadline previously spoke to Gray about his plans for… The Gray Man, he had a pretty radical idea in mind, concerning how he would visually distinguish the film from its predecessors: shoot the entire thing from Pitt’s character’s POV.
Here is what Gray said, on the matter:
“What [Paul Greengrass] did was a documentary-style objective approach [in his 'Bourne' movies], 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.”
Pitt tends to do well at playing decent guys who get in over their head when the crap hits the fan (see: Se7en, Spy Game), but he doesn’t usually portray the ruthless type in action flicks – except when the role is slightly tongue-in-cheek, a la Inglourious Basterds. He aims to subvert that image with the upcoming Cogan’s Trade, which will offer us a taste of Pitt in full badass mode before The Gray Man hits theaters.
As for Gray’s plans: They’re certainly intriguing, if a bit overly ambitious. The task of shooting most everything from Pitt’s perspective will be tricky enough; convincing studio heads that filming an international thriller in an experimental fashion will be harder still. Plus, the producers aren’t going to like the idea of recruiting someone of Pitt’s status to star in The Gray Man, only to turn around and rarely feature him on-screen.
Chances are good that Gray will have to compromise and vary the cinematography a bit in his film. But hey, at least The Gray Man sounds like it could amount to more than another generic blockbuster that happens to star Pitt (unlike World War Z).