You might have noticed that Christopher McQuarrie’s name keeps popping up of late, between the Oscar-winner writing and directing last year’s moderately successful Jack Reacher adaptation – starring Tom Cruise – and contributing to the script for director Bryan Singer’s fairy tale blockbuster Jack the Giant Slayer (which may go down as a John Carter-sized box office disappointment).
That’s in addition to McQuarrie being responsible for the first script draft on next month’s X-Men installment The Wolverine - back when Darren Aronofsky was going to direct - and him having lent a helping hand to development on Top Gun 2 and Mission: Impossible 5 (the latter of which McQuarrie is lined up to direct).
Deadline is reporting that McQuarrie has signed on to write, direct and produce a feature-length adaptation of the British TV mini-series Unforgiven (no connection to the Clint Eastwood western). The three-part TV drama first aired back in January 2009, with Suranne Jones playing a woman who completes a lengthy prison stint – for murdering two police officers when she was a teenager – and sets out to find her adopted sister, when she becomes a target for revenge. Doctor Who fans will recognize Jones as the human incarnation of the TARDIS from the Series 6 Neil Gaiman-penned episode “The Doctor’s Wife”.
Oscar-winning producer Graham King (World War Z) first acquired the Unforgiven movie rights back in 2010, and was quick to hire McQuarrie to script the project as a possible starring vehicle for Angelina Jolie. The latest Deadline report indicates that McQuarrie is still expected to direct Mission: Impossible 5 next, but thereafter Unforgiven will be a priority for McQuarrie over his other developing projects (like Ice Station Zebra).
Mission: Impossible 5 is currently being written by Drew Pearce (the co-writer of Iron Man 3), but both McQuarrie and Cruise are reported to be making significant contributions to the development process. Last week, producer Jerry Bruckheimer informed The Playlist that McQuarrie has left Top Gun 2 to concentrate his efforts on putting together the fifth Mission: Impossible movie. Similarly, almost eight months have passed since Cruise said that he has begun to scout out locations and potential real-world set pieces for the film (a la the Burj Khalifa set piece in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol).
Bruckheimer recently claimed that Cruise and Paramount are still interested in making Top Gun 2, despite the death of director Tony Scott and nearly 30 years having passed since the original movie was released in theaters. The Top Gun sequel could end up being radically different than its predecessor, assuming that it ever sees the light of day (with Scott’s original vision largely intact).
A revenge drama/thriller that revolves around the relationship between two women is unusual material for Hollywood, but Unforgiven sounds like something that could lie in McQuarrie’s wheelhouse. The Jack Reacher director should also help to keep the Mission: Impossible movie tradition alive, by delivering a fifth installment with a strikingly different cinematic flavor than the previous films (which were directed by Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird, respectively).
We’ll keep you up to speed on McQuarrie projects like Unforgiven and Mission: Impossible 5 as more information is made available.