EXCLUSIVE: After Ford v Ferrari landed an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Matt Damon and James Mangold are teaming again. Damon is attached to an adaptation of the 2017 Don Winslow bestseller The Force, which Mangold has been developing to direct for 20th Century Studios.
There is potential here for the kind of New York movie that was the stomping ground of one of Mangold’s favorite filmmakers, Sidney Lumet. Damon is attached to play Denny Malone, a NYPD detective who runs an elite crime fighting squad, but bends the law so often that he loses the line between good and evil and becomes ensnared in a pending corruption scandal. To stop the city’s long-simmering racial tensions from exploding, he must reconcile the idealistic guardian he still views himself to be, with the corrupt cop he’s become. He under siege from all sides: Harlem drug gangs, the mob he’s in bed with, the brother cops he’s about to destroy, the mayor’s office who fears what he knows and who he can implicate, the federal investigators who want to put him behind bars. But most of all, he struggles with the Faustian bargain on the table that will require him to testify against his loyal but dirty team, weighing loyalty to them over his own family. Damon played a compelling corrupt cop in The Departed, but this role holds different complexities.
The project landed in a seven figure Fox deal while the book was in galleys and before it became a juggernaut for the HarperCollins’ imprint William Morrow in 2017. The first script draft was by David Mamet, but Mangold has been working closely on the rewrite with Scott Frank, with whom the director worked on Logan. Scott Free’s Ridley Scott, The Story Factory’s Shane Salerno and Kevin Walsh are producing. Steve Asbell is the exec on the film.
The Force is one of two high profile star cast projects that Mangold has been developing as a follow to Ford v Ferrari. Timothee Chalamet recently attached to play Bob Dylan in an untitled Searchlight film known around town as Going Electric, chronicling that period in 1965 when Dylan rebuffed the expectation he would be folk music’s next prophet and instead embraced rock n roll and the electric guitar.
Winslow, whose trilogy consisting of The Power of the Dog, The Cartel and The Border is moving toward production at FX, next releases a series of novellas and short stories. Broken will be published April 7.
WME-repped Damon wrapped the Tom McCarthy-directed drama Stillwater, and starts production on the Ridley Scott-directed The Last Duel alongside Jodie Comer, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck.