Fact: after the 1990s seemingly burned through his entire catalogue, the last big screen adaptation of a John Grisham novel was not 2003’s “Runaway Jury” but 2004’s “Christmas With the Kranks.” Now Grisham’s 1997 novel “The Partner” could be the next to make it to the big screen, with Mark Wahlberg circling the project to potentially star in and produce for New Regency.
Variety says that talks with Wahlberg are in the early stages, and it would seem that any movie made from the novel is a good ways off. “The Blind Side” director John Lee Hancock was tapped to write and direct the project in January, but has already moved on, likely so that he can dedicate more time to focusing on “Saving Mr. Banks,” which is now gearing up with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. That leaves “The Partner” without a writer or a director, though considering Wahlberg’s success as a producer, he likely can put together whatever duo he likes. The bigger question is, why a Grisham novel?
The plot of “The Partner” isn’t exactly Earth-shattering considering Grisham’s other works. The novel follows Patrick Lanigan, a junior partner (duh) at a Mississippi law firm, who discovers that his partners plan to defraud he government of $90 million dollars and keep him out of it. So what does Lanigan do? He fakes his own death and then takes the money for himself. Instead of his plan working, Lanigan’s former partners get suspicious and send someone to track him down.
Perhaps, on the surface, Wahlberg’s participation in a thriller like “The Partner” isn’t that confusing, but that depends on which Mark Wahlberg you’re talking about. There’s the Mark Wahlberg that acts and produces the Academy Award-winning biopic “The Fighter” and deservedly receives an Oscar nod for his work in 2006’s “The Departed,” and then there’s the “Max Payne” and “Contraband” Mark Wahlberg that seems intent on proving he’s an action star. There’s even a funny Mark Wahlberg that appears in “The Other Guys” and the upcoming “Ted.”
Wahlberg must see something in “The Partner” other than some mid-’90’s Grisham nostalgia, since, lately, he’s been filling his schedule with interesting projects like “2 Guns,” based on the Boom! graphic novel and co-starring Denzel Washington, and the upcoming crime noir drama “Broken City,” which co-stars Russell Crowe and arrives in January 2013. Even “Pain and Gain,” Michael Bay‘s dark comedy co-starring Dwayne Johnson, could be interesting, depending on your perspective. Whether “The Partner” continues that trend remains to be seen.