Variety reports that John Hawkes has signed to star in Switch, the adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch (a big difference in titles, as you may notice). The novel itself is a prequel to Rum Punch, which was famously turned into a movie by Quentin Tarantino in 1997, under the name Jackie Brown. Set 15 years before the events of Brown, Switch follows Louis Gara (Hawkes) and Ordell Robbie (co-star Yasiin Bey, who you might know as Mos Def), two career criminals whose successfully kidnap the wife of a corrupt real estate developer, but have to come up with a new plan when the husband decides not to pay the ransom. And the wife, feeling jilted by her husband’s refusal to pay, decides to extract revenge using the two career criminals. Gara and Ordell were played by Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson in Tarantino‘s film.
Writing and directing duties will be handled by Dan Schechter, who started developing the movie without the permission of Leonard. Luckily for him, the author liked his finished screenplay enough that he handed over the rights. In Arrested Development terms, “that was a freebie.”
Hawkes‘ star has been rising over the past three years, with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for 2010′s Winter’s Bone and well-regarded turns in last year’s Martha Marcy May Marlene and this year’s The Surrogate, which premiered at Sundance last month to rave reviews and a pick up from Fox Searchlight. Normally this is where I’d poo poo (professional journalist term) the idea of a prequel, but since it already existed in novel form and Schechter went to great lengths to get it approved and made, this isn’t some sort of sad cash grab. I’m sure that, character-wise, it’ll remain more true to Jackie Brown, however; at least that’s how they are going to sell it. But, overall, this is definitely a movie to keep on your radar because of Hawkes alone. That man makes everyone else look like they’re half-assing it.
Is The Switch worth adapting into a movie? And for you Jackie Brown fans, do you think Hawkes and Bey will be able to live up to De Niro and Jackson?
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