Peter Berg to direct high-minded drug cartel story ‘Hunt for El Chapo’

Patrick Radden Keefe's New Yorker story “The Hunt for El Chapo” is a terrifying, bizarre, and occasionally funny look at modern drug trafficking. Delving into the lavish world of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the leader of Mexico”s Sinaloa cartel, Keefe finds a quirky character pulling strings for a murderous bunch who love their Instagram. The DEA manhunt for Loera, that ended this past February, lasted a decade. The best kingpins can live a life of luxury and still avert paramilitary. Loera was the best of the best. Those are the types that get movies made about their lives.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Universal has picked up the rights to “El Chapo,” for its “Lone Survivor” director Peter Berg to helm. After that gritty military war film earned more than franchise wannabe “Battleship,” the studio is in a position to let Berg do whatever the heck he wants. He”ll produce “El Chapo” under his Film 44 production banner.

“Dallas Buyers Club” writer Craig Borten will write the screenplay for Berg. Borten spent nearly 20 years writing his Oscar-nominated screenplay, which eventually earned Melisa Wallack a co-writing credit. “El Chapo” will be Borten”s third produced screenplay after “The 33,” the upcoming dramatization of the Argentinian miner”s accident starring Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche. 

Berg is the rare filmmaker to find middle ground between action and prestige fare (“The Kingdom” and “Friday Night Lights” come to mind). “El Chapo” sounds right up his alley, but could it finally push him into Oscar territory? There”s no word on when the film will shoot, though without too many feature projects lined up – he'll supposedly reteam with Mark Wahlberg for “Six Billion Dollar Man” while “Hancock 2” hangs, weeping, on his IMDb page – the project could be accelerate towards existence.