It’s like it’s 2003 all over again. Or 2007. Spy Hunter may not be the video game that has had the most failed movie development attempts, but after having John Woo, Paul WS Anderson and Dwayne Johnson keen to get it off the ground, it is one of the more high profile denizens of development hell. Now Warner Bros is said to be hoping to rev the engine on Midway’s classic Interceptor once more.
The project has a long history. In 2003 Universal bought the rights to Midway’s game franchise — that was when Midway was still almost a thriving game company. A series of screenwriting teams wrote drafts, and in 2004 John Woo came on as director. He was replaced (still in the development cycle) by Paul WS Anderson, who eventually departed the project in 2008. Dwayne Johnson was attached to star, and promoted the idea of the film for years, going so far as to lend his likeness to the game Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run, which was intended to relate to the film. (The game sucked; see the trailer featuring The Rock below.)
Fast-forward to now, when most of the previously attached creative talent has all moved on. According to THR, Dan Lin is producing the film with Roy Lee and Chad St. John is writing a new script. We don’t know if it is based on any previous drafts, but since the project has switched studios I’d expect an all-new take. (Warner Bros. got Spy Hunter after buying Midway last summer when the game publisher finally ran out of gas.)
The trade offers that Spy Hunter is about “a highly trained spy whose job it is to eliminate rogue agents when they become liabilities to their governments. He travels in the G-6155 Interceptor, a sports car tricked out with an array of weapons that frequently is challenged by enemy vehicles.”
That doesn’t really tell us anything, which is part of why the film hasn’t taken off before now. It’s about a car that shoots missiles and squirts oil, and that’s about it. Works as a video game, but as soon as you add enough elements to make it into a movie you’ve got Knight Rider or Mission: Impossible and it just feels like a corny knockoff. Not saying it can’t be done, but does Spy Hunter really have the audience to justify all this effort?