Dwayne Johnson has signed on to star in and Simon West to direct the $35m action thriller Protection for IM Global.

Production is set to begin in New Mexico in autumn. Brandon Noonan’s screenplay is about a mercenary Mexico City security operative who must smuggle a high-ranking judge’s daughter and top advisor across the border.

Newly arrived IM Global president of sales and distribution Jonathan Deckter and the team will be talking to buyers about the project in Cannes. IM Global and CAA are co-representing North American rights.

IM Global CEO Stuart Ford will produce alongside Robert Lawrence, and Gordon Gray and Marc Ciardi of Mayhem Pictures. Brian Kavanaugh Jones is serving as executive producer.

“Dwayne is poised to consolidate his position as one of the planet’s top action stars over the next few years,” Ford said. “Meanwhile Simon is a proven commodity when it comes to studio level action pics. Add to that a pulsating storyline, which is very much grounded in current events, and I think we have a potential smash hit movie”.