Bruce Willis is taking a second run at the 1987 novel Bandits, by Elmore Leonard. The actor-producer originally acquired the rights to the work at the time of its publication, but those rights were allowed to lapse. The project is now moving forward once more, with the author’s son Peter Leonard, and grandson, Tim Leonard, on board as executive producers.
The crime thriller sees a former jewel thief team up with an ex-nun to perpetrate a multi-million dollar scam against a sadistic Nicaraguan colonel. The colonel is generating vast sums of money in the U.S to fund the contras in Nicaragua, and the former jewel thief – now bored in his job as a mortician – takes it upon himself to disrupt that cash flow. Added to that situational mix is the ex-nun’s desire to help a woman with leprosy, who happens to be a former lover of the Nicaraguan colonel.
The source material is described as a black comedy set, for the most part, in New Orleans. Bruce Willis is apparently planning on starring in the adaptation in the role of Jack Delaney, the former jewel thief. The adaptation will be written by Mitch Glazer, who also penned the most recent title on the resume of Willis, Rock The Kasbah. That movie, currently in post-production, is also an ensemble piece, indicating that Glazer’s strength currently lies in writing complex, well characterized stories – all necessary skills for an Elmore Leonard adaptation.
Once the script is completed, we can expect the announcement of a director followed by casting. With a New Orleans setting, and a strong Nicaraguan-centred storyline, Bandits is an opportunity for a truly diverse cast – much more diverse than the last time Willis starred in a movie called Bandits, anyway. That 2001 Barry Levinson movie was not connected to this Elmore Leonard novel, and its cast was almost entirely made up of white actors.