If you need a story to really get your teeth into, make it Red Notice. A New York Times and Sunday Times best-selling book, this is *the* book you should read – and it’s about time that Bill Browder’s story was brought to the big screen.
Truth is stranger than fiction. Founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, Browder was denied entry into Russia in 2005.
Declared a threat to national security – despite the company operating a high profile presence in the country – the Russian authorities raided the offices of Hermitage Capital Management.
$230 million of taxes was stolen by the authorities – despite having been paid by the company.
Sergei Magnitsky, lawyer to Browder, was arrested and tortured when he dared to investigate the crime.
He’d later die in custody in 2009. Browder has since gone on to campaign across the world, with various terror-tries passing the Magnitsky Act.
Those who abuse human rights will be sanctioned – such as being unable to spend money that has been ‘ill-gotten’.
Think of it as a way of saying “we don’t want you here – you are not welcome”.
Why should this story be made into a film? Well…
It’s All In The Title
A ‘red notice’ is part of the Interpool system. It can be used as a mechanism, in a sense, to bring people who are ‘wanted’ to a particular country, once they have been detained.
Russia has used this system – arguably an abuse of process – to try and have Browder returned to the country.
And that’s just at a surface level.
The ‘ordinary made extraordinary’ factor
There is something quite striking in almost how ordinary Browder is.
While the Browder family have an interesting background – his grandfather was the leader of the Communist Party in the US, for instance.
Maths was also a huge influence on the family, too.
It takes a lot for someone to become ‘Vladimir Putin’s number one enemy’.
It’s extraordinary to actively try and do something about that, such as by lobbying governments and passing legislation.
It has a touch of ‘Dark Waters’ – starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway – about it.
There are twists at every turn
Unlike a lot of stories, this is never straightforward or simple; for those who are not familiar with the world of investing, it can at times take a while to get your head around what’s going on.
However, there are several twists and turns – enough so that one journalist suggested Red Notice reads a little like a James Bond thriller.
Red Notice has the potential to be a blockbuster; it could easily fill 120 minutes of screen time.
You will question everything that you know
Where do you go when you wish to hold somebody accountable? Where do you go when you wish to hold ‘the authorities’ – a wide-ranging term, I know, accountable?
Both of these questions are still something we wrestle with in the UK; just look at the Spycops Inquiry.
But add Russia into this mix, and it gets a whole lot more complicated.
It’s really something when ‘the authorities’ raid your office, and commit theft.
It’s something else entirely when a trial is held without a defendant when your lawyer is taken away and tortured.
The agencies supposed to be a check and balance are no such thing.
It’s could be a thriller, a dramatisation, a mystery…
How to make the world a better place?
What I found admirable on reading the book is the ‘make the world a better place’ feel. In the aftermath of Sergei Magnitsky’s death, it was recognised that those who were responsible for his death would not be held accountable.
That makes Red Notice all the more compelling; you can look for a kind of justice outside of the territory where he died. And that is exactly what happened.
Since the terrible events in 2009, Browder has become something of a powerhouse campaigner across the globe.
Legislation has been passed in response such as in the US; it isn’t just for Magnitsky – because the legislation allows others who have committed similar gross acts to be sanctioned.
It’s all to do with money – something that has arguably enabled and motivated the corruption documented in Browder’s book.
Freeze that, and there is now a limit in place.
There is a kind of accountability, now.
While his work is by no means complete, it’s a place to start.
It’s relevant right now, and the story is still going
How on Earth can any writer even begin to sum of the many twists and different strands of what has happened when it comes to the Trump administration, especially when you bring Russia into it?
This is something that makes this story all the more incredible – and something that should be released after ‘The Donald’ is no longer in office. (Only so many days to go! *Hopefully*)
The events of Red Notice have become gradually entwined with that of the Trump administration, due to the Muller investigation. Remember that press conference Donald Trump held with Putin?
Well, Bill Browder was also mentioned during proceedings. The Act Browder managed to have passed during the Obama years has also been a political ‘sticking point’ when it comes to the Trump administration.
I think we can all agree that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election, too.
The events of Red Notice are still relevant. Browder is also working on a follow-up; Freezing Order is almost like a follow-on, looking at the US election, the press conference where Browder was mentioned by name, and more.
The website that published details about this suggested it will be published in 2021 – but has since been contradicted, with another site saying it will be published in 2022. There is a potential for a film, and then a sequel, regardless.
The question is: who will be brave enough to direct a film about Vladimir Putin’s number one enemy? While the world is still waiting for a return to normality, this is not a story that will go away any time soon.
What do you make of this feature?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.