Somewhere, Optimus Prime is sighing in disappointment. Even as Paramount Pictures assembles a writer’s room teeming with Hollywood talent in order to come up with future Transformers installments for Michael Bay to direct, the helmer is lining up a separate sci-fi project for the studio. Bay, who’s currently shooting Benghazi drama 13 Hours, is attached to direct an adaptation of the upcoming Wesley Chu novel Time Salvager, with Transformers‘ Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian producing.
The plot takes place in a dystopian future where humans have left Earth to settle among the stars. It focuses on a convicted criminal fingered as a suitable candidate for non-disruptive time-travel missions designed to slow down humanity’s inevitable annihilation. Though he’s tasked with simply gathering resources and certainly not with stepping on any butterflies, the criminal discovers a scientist slated to die and saves her life. When they return to the future together, he discovers that his actions have turned them both into wanted fugitives.
There are shades of Terminator, Bay’s own The Island and Looper here, and with Bay wanting to direct, it’s clear that the helmer sees the potential for a fast-paced, fun adventure, as well as possibly a new series for Paramount. It doesn’t seem likely that the studio would want Bay to take this over a Transformers sequel, seeing as it’s plotted another installment in that mega-grossing franchise for 2017, but it may be more up to the helmer’s discretion, given his long-standing relationship with execs.
Here’s the official synopsis for Time Salvager, courtesy of Amazon:
Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one’s hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity’s demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history.
James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth’s past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking point, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his.
On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen’s highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity’s home world.