Will Smith’s reputation for guaranteed box office returns took quite a knock (domestically, at least) with the disappointing performance of Men In Black 3, followed by the disastrous After Earth. Legendary Pictures are hoping for a different result with Brilliance, however, which Smith has been closely circling for a number of months. To boost their chances, they’ve now locked the excellent Noomi Rapace into the picture, too.
Based on the novel of the same name by Marcus Sakey, the story is set in a world where ‘the one percent’ means something very different. That’s the fraction of society that, since 1980, has been born with extraordinary abilities – and are known as ‘Brilliants.’ When a dangerous Brilliant is designated a terrorist, and plans to start a civil war, it is up to a federal agent – a Brilliant with amazing hunting abilities – to track the target.
Admittedly, the synopsis perhaps sounds like an X-Men/V For Vendetta kind of mash-up, but here’s where it gets interesting. In the source novel, the federal agent – the hero, if you will – is a male character named Nick Cooper. It seems that this is the role Will Smith has been circling, and is expected to play. The terrorist character, in the novel, is also male. In a movie production of a ‘cat-and-mouse’ story, you expect the casting of the two leads to be key to the whole thing, and therefore happen first – but, Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) is the only other casting to have happened for Brilliance thus far. Does this mean the male terrorist will be switched to a female for the film? I hope so, because if that’s the case, the actress is a great choice.
The adaptation is written by David Koepp (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), and taking the helm is Julius Onah, in only his second feature-length film after his 2012 feature debut, The Girl Is In Trouble. The combination of Koepp’s vast experience and success, and Onah’s fresh voice and vision gives another intriguing aspect to this production. With heavy-weight producers behind it, in the shape of Joe Roth (Maleficent), Palak Patel (Snow White And The Huntsman), Thomas Tull (Inception) and Jon Jashni (2014’s Godzilla), we could be seeing cameras roll on Brilliance very soon.