Matthew Orton (Moon Knight, Operation Finale) has been tasked by Warner Bros. to adapt the assassin thriller Shibumi. Chad Stahelski (John Wick) was originally the producer but he will now step into the directors role too.
This is an adaption of Trevanian’s 1979 novel that tells the story of a highly skilled assassin named Nicholai Hel taking on the Mother Company, a secret conspiracy of energy corporations that control the Western world. So like the WEF but with electricity?
Hel is an expert in the art of “Naked/Kill”, a martial discipline that trains in the use of ordinary items as instruments of death.
The novel was a childhood favourite of Stahelski and apparently adapting the novel has been a dream of his since he became a filmmaker. The novel itself has become something of a fixture in movies he has been involved with. A copy appears briefly in the 2017 David Leitch movie Atomic Blonde, as a hiding place for surveillance equipment. A copy is being read by a guard to the airstrip in John Wick as Keanu Reeves goes to drive his Mustang. In Bullet Train one of the assassins on the train is reading the novel.
Trevanian’s most famous novel is The Eiger Sanction. The story is about a classical art professor and collector called Jonathan Hemlock who doubles as a professional assassin, and who is coerced out of retirement to avenge the murder of an old friend. The novel was made into a film of the same name in 1975, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. The protagonist in the novel is even more sardonic and sarcastic than Eastwood’s portrayal.
Trevanian wrote a sequel entitled The Loo Sanction in which Hemlock visits London and is blackmailed into performing another “sanction”, a top-secret political assassination.
At the time some critics derided The Loo Sanction and The Eiger Sanction as “pale James Bond derivatives” completely failing to understand that semi-serious Bond spoofs were exactly Trevanian’s intention when writing them.
Stahelski is wrapping up post-production on John Wick Chapter 4 and still has PlayStation video game adaption Ghost of Tsushima at Sony Pictures to complete.