Ridley Scott’s The Martian doesn’t hit theaters until later this year, but the director is already lining up his next ambitious project: The Cartel, based on the best-selling, and much-buzzed-about book by Don Winslow. In addition, 20th Century Fox is reportedly eyeing Leonardo DiCaprio to take the leading role, which could attract some healthy awards season attention.

THR reports that Scott has signed on to direct The Cartel, based on Winslow’s novel about the Mexican-American drug war and a DEA agent caught up in a “blood feud” with the head of the most powerful cartel in Mexico. Deadline adds that DiCaprio is being eyed for the lead role, presumably that of the DEA agent. Here’s the official synopsis of The Cartel from Winslow’s site:

From the internationally best-selling author of the acclaimed novel The Power of the Dog comesThe Cartel, a gripping, true-to-life, ripped-from-the-headlines epic story of power, corruption, revenge, and justice spanning the past decade of the Mexican-American drug wars.

It’s 2004. DEA agent Art Keller has been fighting the war on drugs for thirty years in a blood feud against Adán Barrera, the head of El Federación, the world’s most powerful cartel, and the man who brutally murdered Keller’s partner. Finally putting Barrera away cost Keller dearly—the woman he loves, the beliefs he cherishes, the life he wants to lead.

Then Barrera gets out, determined to rebuild the empire that Keller shattered. Unwilling to live in a world with Barrera in it, Keller goes on a ten-year odyssey to take him down. His obsession with justice—or is it revenge?—becomes a ruthless struggle that stretches from the cities, mountains, and deserts of Mexico to Washington’s corridors of power to the streets of Berlin and Barcelona.
Keller fights his personal battle against the devastated backdrop of Mexico’s drug war, a conflict of unprecedented scale and viciousness, as cartels vie for power and he comes to the final reckoning with Barrera—and himself—that he always knew must happen.

The Cartel is a story of revenge, honor, and sacrifice, as one man tries to face down the devil without losing his soul. It is the story of the war on drugs and the men—and women—who wage it.

The Cartel has been a big topic of conversation as of late, and Scott’s film certainly sounds like a potentially great project, should Scott be performing at his best. His recent track record is bumpy, with films like the divisive Prometheus and the severely underwhelming Exodus: Gods and Kings, but The Martian looks fantastic, so perhaps Scott is turning things around.

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