Dead Spy Running Scores Yet Another Director

The ABCs of Death
(Image credit: Magnet Releasing)

Jon Stock's fast-paced espionage novel Dead Spy Running has been bouncing around at Warner Bros. since they first bought the rights back in 2008. At the time, the film was being setup to be the first in an action-thriller trilogy that flashy filmmaker McG (This Means War) was lined up to helm. But as the years whipped by, McG went from director to producer, and the project was passed first to writer-director Stephen Gaghan (Syriana), then earlier this year 50/50 helmer Jonathan Levine was in talks. And now, Levine is out and emerging horror auteur Adam Wingard (V/H/S, The ABCs of Death) is in.

The fact that the would-be film has already changed hands to these four very different filmmakers is jarring enough, but then there's the plot, which seems to have shifted dramatically from the original. Now, admittedly, I have not read Dead Spy Running, but according to its Publishers Weekly plot description it is the story of one Daniel Marchant, a formerly prized MI6 agent whose now living in disgrace and just trying to find some peace running the London Marathon. But after foiling a terrorist plot/assassination attempt of an American ambassador, he's thrown back into the fray of intrigue and distrust, being accused of being a terrorist himself and so is forced on a covert quest to clear his name.

Curiously, the plotline Deadline dolls out has one Danny Marchant as an up-and-coming DJ "in the international world of underground dance music," who is taken under the wing of a gorgeous—and presumably female—spy after he is framed for the murder of his father, who was an MI6 agent. As he globetrots from London, to Paris, Corsica, New York and Mumbai, he must not only clear his name, but also fight terrorism using his "background and skills as a DJ." If you've actually read the book, please tell me in comments if this translation makes any sense to you, because I must admit, I'm puzzled.

Wingard's recurring collaborator Simon Barrett will give the script created by Gaghan and Jamie Moss a polish before the film rolls into production. Warner Bros is reportedly eager to get this going at long last, putting Dead Spy Running on the fast track. Honestly, after having imagined four very different incarnations for this feature at this point, I must admit, I'm intrigued to see the results.

Kristy Puchko

Staff writer at CinemaBlend.