Shane Black helped define action movies of the ’80s and ’90s penning films such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. There’s a reason he’s a fixture of my Reel Action series of videos, even before he jumped to directing with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys, and most recently The Predator. In two of those films, Black was working with Robert Downey Jr., and they are set to be reunited on an adaptation of Donald Westlake’s Parker novels for Amazon Studios
According to Puck “What I’m Hearing” newsletter, Downey and Black are reteaming on a film based on one of Westlake’s Parker novels, centered around the violent, irredeemable career criminal. Black will write the script for Downey to star, although it’s unclear if Black will also direct. Seems like the obvious choice, but one never knows.
As for which of the books is headed to the big screen, there are a lot to choose from but none confirmed. Westlake, under his pseudonym Richard Stark, wrote 24 novels featuring Parker. The character’s debut, The Hunter, has been adapted twice under different names: 1967’s Point Blank starring Lee Marvin, and 1999’s Payback starring Mel Gibson. In 2013 Jason Statham played the character in Parker alongside Jennifer Lopez. It’s one of his best films, in my humble opinion.
Downey playing a character as violent and irredeemable as Parker is an interesting change of pace. Honestly, he could use the change as he hasn’t held the same sway outside of Marvel. Downey and Black have a famously strong working relationship so this could be best for both of them. Black is looking to bounce back from The Predator which got a mixed response. This is more in his wheelhouse, dealing with criminal figures, cops, and probably lots of hard-boiled dialogue.