Shane Black Is Back As He Heads To AMC With Adaptation Of Bannerman Spy Novels

It won't surprise you to learn that the director behind darkly comedic action films like "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and "The Nice Guys" is a big fan of John Maxim's bestselling thriller series about "retired" assassin Paul Bannerman. In fact, the filmmaker in question, Shane Black, even tweeted about his love for the series back in 2021, snapping a photo of all five novels spread out on a table and writing, "The year is 1990 and thriller writer John R. Maxim is at the top of his game. Before Lee Child ... before Vince Flynn ... there was Maxim. The guy simply brings it. Everything I crave. A masterful writer." Perhaps this was our first hint at a series to come ... or just Shane Black manifesting a potential project in the hopes of sparking some interest. Either way, it all worked out in the end: AMC has acquired the rights to the spy series and Shane Black has signed on as executive producer.

AMC is currently in the early development stage with this project, working through a plan to turn the critically-acclaimed novels into a TV series. Black is set to executive produce alongside longtime "The Walking Dead" director Greg Nicotero and "Creepshow" producer Brian Witten. Author Jeffrey Maxim is also attached as a consulting producer.

Also a longtime fan of the novels, Nicotero said in a statement: "I read this entire series years ago and found the contrasting worlds of these dark and tortured souls desperate to live normal lives quite compelling. To partner with Shane on this, who shares the same passion that I do for the books, takes this project to a whole other level."

Meet Paul Bannerman, a retired assassin

Dark and tortured souls? A spy trying to find his place in the world? Shane Black and Greg Nicotero? Sounds like an AMC project to me! The book series, which consists of five novels total, also has quite a bit of source material for the series to mine from, with an ongoing story delving into the violent world of its titular character. The five novels essentially tell the story of Paul Bannerman, a man ready to be fully retired from his life as a top operative and secret government assassin. As far as he's concerned, violence can be left in the past and a simple life of peace and quiet awaits. Sounds a little "John Wick," no?

While there's no tragic dog murder in Bannerman's future (to my admittedly limited knowledge), he does find himself pulled right back into the life he's trying to escape. As it turns out, retiring from a life of killing is much more complicated than simply boxing up his guns. And so the fight for his life continues. 

Bannerman's violent past (and future)

For more details, here's the official synopsis for the first book in the series, "The Bannerman Solution":

Paul Bannerman was once his nation's deadliest weapon -– a top covert operative heading up the most lethal group of contract agents and network specialists in all of Europe. Now Bannerman is a liability -– an unpredictable loose cannon that could irreparably damage America's shaky intelligence structure, if he chose to. So the decision has come down from the top: Bannerman and his people must be eliminated. Suddenly death is running in Westport, Connecticut -– one in a nationwide network of secret "halfway towns" where the country's most dangerous former agents have been "retired." At war with powerful elements within his own government –- a war not of his making -– Bannerman has been lured here to this place of yard sales, mini-vans, commuter trains, and murder. The plan is for Bannerman and those he ran to die here, quietly. But Bannerman has other plans.

It's like "Slow Horses," but with more violence! The Bannerman novels have all the ingredients for a slick, action-packed, neo-noir that's very much emulates Shane Black's filmography. While there's no news about either Black or Nicotero taking on writing or directing roles, a girl can certainly dream. (It wouldn't even be Black's first crack at TV writing!) Here's hoping the series moves forward at AMC. Keep an eye on /Film for further updates.