Calling Hollywood Producers: Here's A Topical Film Pitch For A Sequel Some People Actually Might Want To See

Hollywood and/or the British film industry is currently scratching its head over how best to bring a film adaptation of the News International hacking scandal to the big screen and/or to tap into the current zeitgeist-like realisation that newspapers may not be all that honest and fluffy after all. The Leveson Inquiry, which began last week, is likely to ensure the story keeps rolling for some time yet, as will the fact that the police investigation hasn't actually been completed.

So, if Hollywood can tap find a way into the topic now - even though the investigation is yet to be completed and the story concluded - two or three years down the line, it might find that the story is still relevant, thus boosting the chance of a successful film upon release.

You know what else would boost the chance of a successful film? The return of Gene Hackman.

Hands up everyone who misses Gene Hackman? Yes, me too. Hackman hasn't been seen on film since 2004's Welcome To Mooseport, which several people have suggested several times is not exactly a fitting way for an actor of his calibre to end his career. He officially announced his retirement from acting in 2008 but did hint that he would be tempted to return if it involved a small role that he could perform at, or close to, his home.

Let me suggest an idea that pulls both of these things together: bring him back in a familiar guise. Bring him back in a familiar guise that's probably recognisable but doesn't tread all over a classic like The Conversation, or attempt to remake The French Connection, or anything dumb like that. Bring him back in something that will ensure people rush out to buy the original (which few of them own) on blu-ray. Bring him back in something that feels fairly topical. Bring him back as the hacker who brought down a senator in Enemy Of The State.

In retirement, Gene was taking talking to plants to a whole new level.

Here's the dubiously fleshed-out brilliant pitch. Hackman will return as Edward Lyle, whilst Will Smith comes back to star in his role as Robert Dean. One of the many beauties to a sequel to Enemy Of The State is that most of the rest of the players are dead or incidental enough to be completely forgotten - the rest of the casting is open to anyone who wants to audition is cheap enough for the production to afford. Cast someone young-ish to appeal to that crowd. A Josh Hutcherson or Channing Tatum maybe. We'll come back to them later.

We're now several years on from the events of the first film. Dean - who, you will recall, was a successful lawyer - has moved into politics on the back of a campaign which brought to light his ordeal in the original movie. Going from legal eagle to politics is hardly a move that requires a leap of faith in audience' imaginations.

The film opens on someone who is shown to be close to Dean committing suicide - not a botched assassination like the first film, but a genuine suicide.

Reveals are planted that show Dean's friend had been the subject of newspaper allegations into his private life, accusing the married man of a homosexual affair. As Dean returns home from work one day a handwritten envelope is found on his doormat, opening it a single sheet of paper reads 'how did they know?'.

Dean investigates and uncovers allegations of phone hacking. He meets up with the journalist who wrote the stories, who eventually reveals the source of the hack to Dean. Here's where the younger actor comes in: he or she will play the source of the telephone hack, they'll be this film's 'enemy of the state', only this time, it's Dean doing the chasing.

The intrigue comes in from the fact that Dean will quickly find out that his hacker isn't only working for the newspapers; he's working for government departments and other governments and he knows a lot of other people who are too.

Is Dean compromised by something he's done in the past? At what point can we shoe-horn Hackman's role in? How far can we take this without getting sued by News International?

I don't know, I don't write scripts for free, goddamnit. Hollywood: call me.


  1. Has Gene Hackman really been gone that long? Man, I had no idea. I didn't realized he'd announced his "retirement" either. You're right, he can't stay away forever. He's too good.

    This is an interesting idea. I confess I was not a big fan of "Enemy of the State" but that had far more to do with Tony Scott's Tony Scott-ish direction than anything. Maybe if you could get in the room with a Paul Greengrass and make your pitch....

  2. Sounds good! Agree with Nick, this is definitely one for Greengrass!

  3. Nick, Pete - there was honestly originally a line in this article which read something like;

    'want something like the first film? Give it back to Tony Scott. Want an Oscar or two? Start drafting your letter to Paul Greengrass.'

    Hackman really has been gone that long and over the last few years I've started to notice his absence. Whenever he used to turn up in films (WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT excepted) I used to think that there would at least be a small bit of quality in there. I just don't get that feeling from many people.