I was in a so-whatty frame of mind when I read earlier today about Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington reportedly being close to signing for The Matarese Circle, an updating of a respected 1983 Robert Ludlum thriller under director David Cronenberg. It would be the second high-velocity, internationally-flavored vehicle for Cruise on top of The Tourist, a remake of the French-produced Anthony Zimmer (’05) which Variety says will be his next project.

What’s in this for Cronenberg besides a fat paycheck? The man has always made films that have had some kind of extra thematic layer or undercurrent, or at least an application of kink. Read the synopses of the original ’83 Ludlum novel. Unless rewriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas are radically departing from the book, there doesn’t seem to be anything in it other than straight plot. Is Cronenberg looking to be the next Paul Greengrass or ’90s-era Phillip Noyce? If so, that’s a switch.

It’s a good idea to beware, by the way, of anyone who had anything above-the-liney to do with Wanted, and in my book that means beware of Brandt and Haas. I realize that the ludicrousness of that Angelina Jolie thriller was partly due to the graphic-novel origins as well as the direction of that three-toed Russian sloth Timur Bekmambetov, who made this Universal release into one of the dumbest, most over-cranked action films of all time. But Brandt-Haas also wrote 3:10 to Yuma as well as 2 Fast 2 Furious. Make that caveat emptor plus.