On the ever shifting scale of pop culture irrelevancy, Spy Hunter is snuggled somewhere between The Great Space Coaster and Styx’s Kilroy Was Here. Though one’s a coin-operated video game, the other a children’s television show and the latter a concept album that baffled a nation, they all share a common trait: they’d make lousy feature films. Thankfully, the latter two properties have been left in the 1980s where they belong; Spy Hunter, however, keeps hanging around as a potential movie despite the fact that it’s been rewritten several times and scared away John Woo, the once great filmmaker who’s hopefully rediscovering what made him brilliant with The Battle of Red Cliff.
If Spy Hunter must be a movie (and someone at Universal is faithfully crunching numbers in this project’s favor), I can’t think of a better director to bring it listlessly to life than Paul W.S. Anderson. This is a film that yearns only to be product; writers as studio-friendly as Zak Penn, Stuart Beattie, Derek Haas and Michael Brandt have come and gone, doing their mediocre-ist to find in Spy Hunter a story that isn’t just about a cool car that a) zips along a crudely pixilated highway dodging vehicles with twirling spike hubcaps, and b) occasionally drives into the trailer of a semi-truck. But their halfhearted efforts just weren’t uninspired enough; it’ll take a true hack like Anderson and a writer to be named later to cough up a screenplay that does the source material justice (i.e. feeds it quarters and kicks the shit out of it every ten minutes or so).
For those of you who’ve been anxiously tracking Spy Hunter‘s progress as a motion picture, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson’s involvement is still up in the air. Having already turned up in the tie-in to the aborted Woo movie Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run, The Rock would seem a sensible choice as the spy who was never seen in the original video game (though was pictured on the side of the coin-op machine, and looked a bit like a fancily-coiffed Michael Biehn), but his lack of resemblance to Milla Jovovich might prove problematic.