Universal Outlines A Robert Ludlum Cinematic Universe – Starting With The Janson Directive


The Janson Directive is a film adaptation that was announced in September 2014, but hasn’t progressed much further in the intervening period. Until now, it was most notable for being yet another movie with franchise potential to be stacked on the slate of the increasingly busy Dwayne Johnson. Universal just turned up the heat on the project, however, by detailing how it will become the foundation of a brand new cinematic universe.

The book from which The Janson Directive will be adapted is by legendary author Robert Ludlum – who also created the Jason Bourne series. According to the book synopsis, there are also vast similarities between the Bourne and Janson tales.

“When billionaire philanthropist Peter Novak is kidnapped by a terrorist known as The Caliph, it’s up to Paul Janson — a legend in the notorious U.S. covert agency Consular Operations — to save him. But Janson’s rescue operation goes horribly wrong…and soon Janson is marked for death, the target of a “beyond salvage” order issued from the highest level of the government. Now Janson is running for his life, pursued by Jessica Kincaid, a young agent of astonishing ability who can anticipate and counter his every move. To survive, Janson must outrace a conspiracy that has gone beyond the control of its originators. To win, he must counter it with a conspiracy of his own…”

The catalyst for the plot of 2002’s The Bourne Identity is a botched assassination, which leads to Jason Bourne being marked for death by his former handlers and him running for his life while trying to investigate the conspirators. These shared characteristics make it an interesting development to see Universal – home of the Bourne franchise – plan out a cinematic universe around Paul Janson.

To be clear, the language used by the studio is specifically “cinematic universe,” as opposed to “franchise” or “series” – and titles expected to be added later include The Parsifal Mosaic, The Sigma Protocol and Covert One. James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man) is writing the script for The Janson Directive, and may have an involvement in future projects. Akiva Goldsman has also worked on the script, but there are, as yet, no directors being mentioned.

So, with Dwayne Johnson locked in for the lead, all eyes fall to the role of Jessica Kincaid – the capable agent that will pursue him. I’m going to suggest Tessa Thompson, Priyanka Chopra, Emily Blunt, Adrianne Palicki or Karen Fukuhara. Any of those actresses would deliver a great performance in the role while adhering to the ancient, ridiculous, unspoken Hollywood rule that an actress must be significantly younger than her male counterpart. Should this fledgling Robert Ludlum cinematic universe wish to eschew convention and resemble something a little more realistic, however, then Ming-Na Wen would knock The Janson Directive out of the park.