It’s safe to say that Dwayne Johnson is comfortable being a franchise man, between his ongoing roles in both the Fast and Furious and G.I. Joe series; not to mention, he has tentative plans to join the DC movie universe sometime in the future, and there’s still a chance that Johnson will return to the family-friendly Journey series for Journey 3 down the line – and now, “The Rock” is being eyed to headline his own Jason Bourne-esque franchise, starting with The Janson Directive.
The project, appropriately enough, is based on the novel written by Bourne creator/author Robert Ludlum, as was published in 2002 (a year after Ludlum passed away). Ludlum’s Janson Directive source material revolves around Paul Janson, an ex-Navy SEAL turned private security consultant, who finds himself targeted by the U.S. government after he participates in a rescue mission gone wrong.
Variety, reporting on the news, cautions that Johnson is only in “early talks” to star in Janson Directive; if he strikes a deal with Universal, however, the wrestler-turned actor will also serve as a producer on the film. Moreover, Johnson is said to be “high” on the project, even though it doesn’t have an actual script yet – again, something that will change quickly, should Johnson commit to starring.
Generally speaking, Janson Directive has a fair amount in common with the Bourne series, including a larger governmental conspiracy that winds up propelling the story forward. However, if you were to add someone with Johnson’s screen presence plus, say, a credible screenwriter and/or director to the formula, then suddenly a Janson Directive movie would sound less like a Bourne knockoff – and more like a promising new addition to the government conspiracy/thriller sub-genre.
Janson Directive, similar to Ludlum’s Bourne novels, will probably be updated in terms of its historical context; much like the author’s original Jason Bourne stories were set against a Cold War backdrop, the Paul Janson character is a Vietnam War veteran in Ludlum’s source material. This year’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit gave the late Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character’s origin story a post-9/111 makeover, and it’s quite feasible that Janson will get an identical treatment.
Question is, will Johnson actually be able to reach a deal to headline Janson Directive, given how in-demand he is right now? After all, back in 2012 Chris Hemsworth’s busy schedule prevented him from committing to headlining American Assassin – another g-man thriller with franchise potential – and it’s not as though Johnson isn’t getting his leading man due right now. Best to wait and see, of course.
We’ll keep you posted on The Janson Directive news as it becomes available.