It’s a bit misleading to say Jason Statham could “return to action” with the secret agent thriller Echelon, since the muscle-bound, former Olympic diver with a monotone manner has never really deviated from working in the action genre, truth be told.
Statham is nevertheless interested in starring in the adaptation of Andy McNab’s “Firewall”, a project that Eric Bana was eying last year as a possible new franchise to become associated with, but has seemingly passed on doing since.
Former Special Air Service agent Andy McNab wrote “Firewall” back in 2000, and it’s the third entry in a literary franchise that revolves around (appropriately enough) an ex-SAS man-turned British Secret Intelligence Service operative, Nick Stone. Statham would naturally star as Stone, a ruthless and highly efficient agent who accepts a freelance job to kidnap a Russian mafia warlord – and ends up getting involved in a cyber-espionage plot to get ahold of the coveted Echelon computer program.
Deadline says that Echelon is the first of twenty movies that will be developed, produced, and distributed as the result of a $250 million deal struck between Hyde Park and Imagenation Abu Dhabi. The film will also mark the directorial debut of longtime stunt coordinator Simon Crane, whose handiwork was most recently on display in the Angelina Jolie thrillers Salt and The Tourist – and when it comes to Jason Statham vehicles, cool fighting/action sequences are pretty much all you expect anyway, right?
McNab has written thirteen novels that involve the Stone character, so there’s plenty of material for future installments should Echelon prove to be a profitable undertaking. Statham could practically sleepwalk through the role of a cunning professional who excels at kickin’ butt and taking names (or, rather, foiling international criminal plots), since he’s done it so often. Stone sounds more like a Jack Ryan figure than the deadly soldiers and killers that Statham has played most recently in The Expendables and The Mechanic, so he’d be flexing his range as an actor a tad bit with the part.
How exactly a franchise revolving around Nick Stone would differ from the Jason Bourne movies or the latest James Bond pics is less apparent. Let’s just hope Crane and his director of photography at least lay off the use of shaky cam, shall we?
Look to hear more about the development of Echelon in the future.