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The relationship between humans and animals is a link better described on paper, where the written words can dig deeper than anything visually perceptible. For every good species-mixing film like Every Which Way But Loose, there are a dozen duds like K-9 and Ed. Fox 2000 is banking on audiences empathizing with man’s best friend for Suspect, an adaptation of Robert Crais’ bestselling 2013 novel. Fox optioned the rights and the film will see Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson step in with her Color Force partner Brad Simpson. Ruh-roh, riminals!
A medium-sized budget thriller about a man solving crimes with his beloved dog is at least mildly original. It follows rookie LAPD officer Scott James, who is mentally scarred by his partner getting killed in a shooting. For therapeutic purposes, he begins taking care of Maggie, a military German Shepherd experiencing PTSD after losing her Marine handler in Afghanistan. James’ relationship with the dog is strengthened as he gets closer to tracking down his partner’s killers. I’ve never read it, but THR credits the book with rounding out Maggie’s character as something more than just a four-legged metaphor, as well as turning Crais’ home turf of Los Angeles into a character all on its own.
Script duties have been given to David DiGilio, best known for scripting the movie where Paul Walker took a sled instead of a fast car, 2006’s surprisingly enjoyable Eight Below. He created the underseen 2007 ABC series Traveler and also wrote the first draft of the possible Tron: Legacy sequel. Though Crais only has this one novel with James, its popularity could make it a possible series, and the same goes for DiGilio’s script. If there is a sensible story to be told where a mentally troubled dog is a main character, I’m all for it. But we’re going to need a really strong actor in the human role to take it to the next level. We don’t just need some pretty boy taking the lead; this isn’t The CW.
This is a rare move for Crais, who had previously turned down filmmakers wanting to adapt Suspect. He cited the faithful adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series as the reason why he chose Jacobson for the job. Though Crais got his start writing for television shows such as Hill Street Blues, for which he got an Emmy nom, and Quincy M.E., he hasn’t been keen on getting his work to the big screen, and has steadfastly refused to let anyone adapt any of the books in his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series. The only one out there is Florent-Emilio Siri’s Hostage, the surprisingly exciting 2005 drama in which everything that can go wrong does go wrong.
Is everyone on board with a movie featuring a dog that has PTSD, and how terrible would it be if they decided to use a CGI dog instead of a real one? Answer these questions and more in the comments below.