DIVERGENT Director Neil Burger Set to Wield ALL THE OLD KNIVES

     September 23, 2014

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Divergent director Neil Burger decided to pass on helming the sequel, Insurgent, due to the time constraints, but now he’s found an enticing follow-up.  According to Deadline, Burger is attached to direct All the Old Knives, a spy thriller based on the upcoming novel by Olen Steinhauer, who also wrote the script.  The story takes place in Carmel-by-the-Sea where two ex lovers—one a CIA spy and one an ex-CIA spy—come to dinner to reminiscence.  However, the meal has an ulterior motive where one of them comes to discover if a disastrous hijacking was part of a larger conspiracy.  “It also becomes clear,” adds Deadline, “that one of the ex-lovers may not survive the meal.”  Having recently visited Carmel-by-the-sea, I quite enjoy the notion of contrasting an idyllic setting with a battle of wills between two lovers who are discussing the ramifications of a mission that led to the death of everyone on board the plane.

Hit the jump for more.

all-the-old-knives-book-coverBurger had this to say about the project [via Deadline]:

“Olen Steinhauer has written a fantastic, suspenseful, sophisticated drama set in the world of the CIA,” Burger said. “As a director, I love that it’s a tightly woven puzzle, a mystery involving counter-terrorism and also a mystery of the human heart. Best of all are the two very clever and calculating characters at the center of the story who are dealing with issues of loyalty, sacrifice and a lot of sexual tension. I can’t wait to start casting them.”

I’ll be curious to see if Burger casts two actors to play their parts in the past and present or if he’ll split the roles into younger and older versions.  Either way, he’s absolutely right that these parts will be enticing for actors.  Additionally, coming off the success of Divergent and Limitless, he has the clout to attract serious talent to the project.  Producers Steve Schwartz, Nick Wechsler, and Paula Mae Schwartz say they plan to start casting immediately now that Burger is on board.

Here’s the official synopsis for Olen Steinhauer’s All the Old Knives:

Nine years ago, terrorists hijacked a plane in Vienna. Somehow, a rescue attempt staged from the inside went terribly wrong and everyone on board was killed.

Members of the CIA stationed in Vienna during that time were witness to this terrible tragedy, gathering intel from their sources during those tense hours, assimilating facts from the ground with a series of texts coming from one of their agents inside the plane. So when it all went wrong, the question had to be asked: Had their agent been compromised, and how?

Two of those agents, Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, were lovers at the time, and in fact that was the last night they spent together. Until now. That night Celia decided she’d had enough; she left the agency, married and had children, and is living an ordinary life in the suburbs. Henry is still an analyst, and has traveled to California to see her one more time, to relive the past, maybe, or to put it behind him once and for all.

But neither of them can forget that long-ago question: Had their agent been compromised, and how? And each of them also wonders what role tonight’s dinner companion might have played in the way things unfolded.

All the Old Knives is Olen Steinhauer’s most intimate, most cerebral, and most shocking novel to date—from the New York Times bestselling author deemed by many to be John le Carré’s heir apparent. [Amazon]

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