How do you turn around a career that’s close to bobbing upside down in the sea like a forgotten water wing? Hook up a script with mainstream potential to a producer (Lorenzo di Bonaventura) ready to extend his oeuvre out of genre flicks, attach a director with massive critical love (Terry George) and court a fallen star who needs his own reconstructive career surgery (Tom Cruise).

Kurt Wimmer might not be doing all that himself, but Columbia has got George in talks to helm his spec script Edwin A. Salt (rename, please, since that sounds like the recipient of a non-televised Lifetime Achievement Award Oscar) which concerns a CIA op painted by a defector as a Russian sleeper agent. The idea is to develop as a Cruise controlled vehicle, which with Valkyrie drawing more good words than Jack Chick, doesn’t look like such a bad idea.

Put this one under ‘less impossible than you’d think’. Admittedly I haven’t read Wimmer’s script, but the story summation plays more like Mission: Impossible side project, something Cruise should be eager to shy away from. The last time Wimmer sold a CIA idea (The Recruit) it didn’t exactly bring down the house. But despite a full load of potential post-Singer projects (Men, Selling Time) Variety suggests that Cruise digs this story, which could be enough to greenlight this sucker in a hasty pre-strike atmosphere.

If this deal works, the gig’s cache is going to rest with Terry George. With Reservation Road already buzzing madly months before it berths (births?) at fall festivals, it’s easy to see why all involved might take each other’s bait. Finally, since George is no journeyman screenwriter himself, I’d expect there to be more value to Wimmer’s script (even before the inevitable rewrite) than it seems to have at face value.