Dwayne Johnson Will Star as a Secret Agent in a Robert Ludlum Story That’s Not About Bourne

By  · Published on September 30th, 2014

Warner Bros.

Because the sky is blue and grass is green and we all have to pay taxes and one day die, Dwayne Johnson is going to fulfill his destiny as an actor and machine-like human by playing a secret agent (a real one, not a silly one as he did in Get Smart). The world’s most lovable former wrestler turned Scorpion King turned adrenaline fueled action star confirmed over Twitter that he’ll be starring in an adaptation of The Janson Directive, a project that’s been in gestation over at Universal for some time. You’ve got competition, Jason Bourne – there’s a new Robert Ludlum-penned mystery man in town.

With that tweet, Johnson also confirmed that The Janson Directive is being propelled forward with a script by Akiva Goldsman. It’s promising news when you hear that the Oscar-winning writer of A Beautiful Mind is penning the script; it’s another when you remember that he’s also the writer of A Winter’s Tale. Until the flying horse stops haunting our dreams, we can’t stop talking about it, buddy.

Though Universal has been attempting to make the film happen since 2011 – undoubtedly due to the success of the Bourne trilogy and the subsequent follow-up, The Bourne Legacy — it never came to fruition. But when you have one wildly popular Ludlum adaptation on your hands, you definitely play your hand at two and you keep fighting. This past June, progress was made when it was rumored that Johnson would be starring. Now things are finally underway.

The story focuses on retired Navy SEAL and current secret agent Paul Janson, whose next mission is to find a kidnapped philanthropist being held hostage by a terrorist organization. Sounds dastardly. However, his operative goes “horribly wrong” – don’t want to say conspiracy, but maybe it’s a conspiracy – and he’s left in a position where the US government and even his own agency turns on him. He’s now on the run as he both attempts to figure out what happened and not die.

It’s a story that seems like it would draw in Johnson like a moth to the flame, and he’s clearly excited about the project, if his tweet and liberal use of themed hashtags is an indication. As well as the odd DIY production art he attached. It’s definitely a Ludlum character, and one that Johnson will portray admirably; he’ll spend most of the film dodging bullets, running with purpose and yelling about a conspiracy at squares in suits while he kicks some ass.

While it’s a solid role for Johnson, it’s more than just that. He’s taking significant steps in his career. He recently signed on to play sorta villain Black Adam in Shazam, putting his name on a superhero franchise. As a crusher of souls and stomper of heels, he’s going to be the face associated with a significant DC player. It’s been a long time since Tooth Fairy. And though “The Janson Directive” is only one novel and not a trilogy like the “Bourne” books, there’s always that promise that a good Ludlow story turned film could develop into a franchise of its own. Again, look to The Bourne Legacy spinoff. Never doubt the success of a spy film.

What he is doing is getting himself roles with longevity, gigs that afford him the space to run and curse and mess up anyone who comes within punching distance while giving him a little more to work with, as well. And does anyone not want that to happen? We’ve got a world where Dwayne Johnson is going to be a gritty, real-world operator. Things are looking pretty alright.

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