Today’s a big day for unlikely action film developments; in this case I imagine that Neal Stephenson just started sharpening one of his swords. The author created a very specific portrait of the pioneer scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who also worked for a time at the British Mint, for his massive eight-book Baroque Cycle. In Stephenson’s telling, Newton is intensely brilliant, fiercely competitive, reclusive almost to the point of drama, and a scientific pioneer who was also devoutly, unwaveringly devoted to his faith.

I know, I know: halfway through that explanation you were already thinking, “duh, action hero.”

But Rob Cohen, who directed Stealth and just finished Alex Cross, is planning an action franchise based around Newton’s days at the Mint.

Variety says that Cohen, along with producer Gene Kirkwood, is working on the film. Cohen will script, and the trade says the focus is on “part of Newton’s life when he served as chief detective and head of the British Mint.”

Now, Newton’s days at the Mint are fascinating — he was particularly concerned with widespread counterfeiting practices, and devoted his efforts to making currency more difficult to counterfeit, as he also tracked down those to continued to attempt to do so. Newton would don disguises to gather evidence from taverns, and was doggedly persistent in tracking down those who subverted the coin of the realm.

That said, Newton is much more primed to be an intellectual detective than an action hero. But if it worked for Sherlock Holmes, I suppose it can work for Newton, too.

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