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Universal Adapting Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Janson Directive’

Written by on October 25, 2011 

In the wake of three hit movies based on the Bourne novels, it’s a little surprising that no one in Hollywood bothered to rush out film versions of other Robert Ludlum books. Studios have an unfortunate penchant for pillaging whatever makes money until it’s no longer financially viable — why not give him the same treatment? (Bourne Legacy doesn’t count; if it was an adaptation — which it’s not — it would still be based on a book by Eric Van Lustbader. Yes, I can be overly-technical.)

It might be late, but Deadline is reporting that another one of his novels, The Janson Directive, is being taken to the screen. Universal is working with Captivate Entertainment and Ludlum Entertainment on the adaptation Ludlum‘s posthumous book, which follows Paul Janson, a Vietnam veteran scarred by memories of torture. Now acting as a “corporate secutiry consultant,” he “takes a job rescuing an important man, but when the job goes awry, Janson is targeted for a ‘beyond salvage’ termination order.” This leads Janson on a quest to “follow the clues that lead him to a massive scandal.”

John Hlavin, writer on the upcoming Underworld Awakening, will pen the script. Captivate producer Ben Smith says that the scribe has “developed a fantastic take” on the material with a “sharp interpretation of the character,” which almost reads like “he won’t be a Jason Bourne clone.” The producer seems pretty dedicated to Ludlum‘s bibliography — Captivate is developing The Parsifal Mosaic with Universal for Ron Howard, as well as adaptations of The Osterman Weekend and The Sigma Protocol, the latter of which is at the studio. A couple others were said to be moving forward in May of last year, but they weren’t listed here.

Comparisons to Bourne will undoubtedly spring up; not only are they from the same writer, but some of the plot elements bring back memories of the Matt Damon trilogy. That much being said, the plot synopsis gives an indication that this might be different enough to stand on its own, at least when it comes to the protagonist. Though I may not be familiar with the source material, I’m interested simply because I love a good spy thriller, and we’ve seen that Ludlum‘s stories can provide the groundwork three times now. That feels like a nice precedent.

Here’s a plot synopsis of the novel (via Amazon):

“When billionaire philanthropist Peter Novak is kidnapped by a terrorist known as The Caliph, it’s up to Paul Janson—a legend in the notorious U.S. covert agency Consular Operations—to save him. But Janson’s rescue operation goes horribly wrong…and soon Janson is marked for death, the target of a “beyond salvage” order issued from the highest level of the government. Now Janson is running for his life, pursued by Jessica Kincaid, a young agent of astonishing ability who can anticipate and counter his every move. To survive, Janson must outrace a conspiracy that has gone beyond the control of its originators. To win, he must counter it with a conspiracy of his own…”

Have you read Ludlum’s original novel? Are you interested in seeing more of his books made into films?

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