Since busting out of director jail last year and helming a big screen treatment of Jim Grant’s Jack Reacher series, Christopher McQuarrie has been making every effort to keep himself busy; the former Wolverine scribe has hopped on board for a feature-length rendition of British TV series Unforgiven (not, as one might assume, a remake of the classic Clint Eastwood Western), and more recently signed up to take the reigns on Mission: Impossible 5, which will reunite him with Reacher star Tom Cruise. (To say nothing of his numerous writing credits, which include, but aren’t limited to, Jack the Giant Slayer and Cruise’s 2014 sci-fi action flick, Edge of Tomorrow.)
Now, McQuarrie has added yet another production to his burgeoning pile: an adaptation of Three to Kill, a book by French author Jean-Patrick Manchette. That’s not to be confused with Three Days to Kill, also French, but a completely different picture altogether. Manchette’s narrative, set on the country’s coast, revolves around a businessman who finds himself caught in the sights of two ruthless killers after witnessing a murder; with McQuarrie at the wheel and Howard Rodman on script duty, the leading role has been handed over to Colin Firth, though no other casting information has been made available thus far.
Deadline broke the news just recently. For all of McQuarrie’s big future plans, Three to Kill sounds like it could be a good choice for the off-season when he’s not chasing after action blockbusters like Mission: Impossible 5. A lean, focused, straightforward thriller (which honestly sounds slightly Hitchcockian at a glance) sounds like a nice refresher course following the further escapades of Ethan Hunt – though perhaps Manchette’s novel has more twists and turns to it than meet the eye.
Maybe we’ll get a better idea of what shape Three to Kill will take next year, when Pierre Morel (Taken, District 13) releases The Gunman, which he’s adapted from a totally separate Manchette story. That film features the likes of Idris Elba, Sean Penn, and Javier Bardem in primary and supporting parts, though it also seems quite a bit more gun-happy and focused on international intrigue, so there could be nothing that The Gunman can teach us about what McQuarrie has in store for us with his own Manchette project.
Perhaps there’s more to learn from West Coast Blues, the Eisner-nominated comic book based on Three to Kill; that alone suggests the material has something great going for it, and should be cause for excitement more than the names attached to the film so far.
Firth, for his part, has plenty on his plate too – The Railway Man and Devil’s Knot both enjoyed their premieres at TIFF this past September, and the former will begin its theatrical run in Australia December 26th. Meanwhile, he’s all set to join Emma Stone for Woody Allen’s next film, Magic in the Moonlight, as well as Matthew Vaughn’s The Secret Service. Hopefully none of this means he has to squeeze Three to Kill out of his schedule; he and McQuarrie could make a great duo. We’ll wait to see where all of this goes.
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