Ron Howard Trying His Hand at a Spy-Thriller

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Author Robert Ludlum, whose Bourne series has lead to some of the greatest action movies ever made, died in 2001. However, after the success of the Bourne films, new filmmakers seem to be jumping at the bit to get a shot at of Ludlum’s canon.

The latest director is Oscar and audience favorite Ron Howard. Howard has been incredibly fortunate to achieve box office success adapting Dan Brown’s novels and Awards acclaim for his adult historical dramas, all the while not really being all that great of a director.

Howard will be tackling another Robert Ludlum spy thriller to be called The Parsifal Mosaic. The movie is about a CIA agent who believes he witnesses the murder of his KGB ex-lover. It kind of has a non-comedic Mr. and Mrs. Smith ring to it, and knowing Ron Howard it will either go in that direction and it will kind of work, or he will go for serious drama and it will be awful.

Here is the synopsis of the novel from Wikipedia:

Michael Havelock, (an anglicized version of Mikhail Havlíček), is an intelligence agent in the United States. At the beginning of the novel he believes he has just witnessed the execution of his partner and the love of his life, Jenna Karas (anglicized version of Jenna Karasova) along an isolated stretch of the Costa Brava. Jenna had been marked for execution because she had been proved to be a KGB double agent.

He immediately leaves the intelligence world, something he’d been considering doing for some time and goes sightseeing in areas he’d previously visited. In Athens, Pyotr Rostov, a senior director of the KGB forces a meeting with Havelock. Rostov denies that Karas is an agent of theirs. Later, in Rome, Havelock sees Jenna alive at a train station. She flees him, frightened, and he pursues her.

He makes contact with a former source at the US Consulate, and begins his search for Jenna throughout several countries. Meanwhile, strategists for Consular Operations in the US government decide that he is a paranoid schizophrenic and must be terminated, lest he compromise entire networks across Europe. All the evidence available to them indicates that Karas was a double agent, and was successfully terminated on the Costa Brava

Back in the United States, however, the US government has a problem of its own: Anton Matthias, Secretary of State, acknowledged by the entire world as a genius and trusted with powers far beyond those his office allow him, has gone completely insane. Before anybody realized that he was insane, he negotiated treaties with parties he believed to be representing the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China, each agreeing to a nuclear strike against the third party, but in fact with a man who identified himself as Parsifal. Parsifal demands a huge ransom to keep the documents from being released, thereby triggering a nuclear war. Once the ransom is paid, however, he does not touch it, having confirmed how desperate Washington is. Havelock, who as a child had been one of the few survivors of the massacre at Lidice, has a special bond with Matthias, a fellow Czech who had advised him in graduate school. Somehow Matthias’s insanity is linked to the order to terminate Jenna Karas.

For her part, Karas has been told that Michael is a Russian spy and that he is trying to kill her. Consequently, she is not especially eager to meet him.

When Michael finally traces Jenna to an isolated farm in Pennsylvania, they realize that they were both deceived and that each had been told that the other was an enemy. They then work together with the President of the United States, Charles Berquist, and several trusted advisors to find Parsifal and stop him.

I’ll admit that I was not a huge fan of the Bourne books. Ludlum spends way too much time on descriptions, and not enough on the story. I think Ludlum would be strongly against Greengrass’ shaky-cam filming methods. However, Greengrass brings the books to life in a way that only he can.

Bottom line – I don’t love Ron Howard. He’s done some decent work, but I have low hopes for The Parsifal Mosaic.

[Source: Film School Rejects]

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  • What did you think of “Ransom”? I thought Howard did a good job with that (backed with a solid Richard Price screenplay) that showed he can do genre. But I may be higher on him in general than you are.

  • I just think he’s way overrated. He’s a good director. His films are above average. However, the way that he gets Oscar nominations left and right makes it seem like he’s a genius. I don’t think any of his films (with the exception of ‘Apollo 13) would have made my top 10 in the year of their release.

    Oh, and to answer your question, no I have not seen ‘Ransom.’

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