At their best, a reboot of a much-beloved film property is a dicey proposition. Aside from enraging die-hard fans of the original, the end result is, more often than not, less than stellar. Director John Carpenter has already had a handful of his films reworked, rehashed, and prequeled in various ways—Halloween, The Thing (which, granted, was itself a remake), The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13—and his 1981 sci-fi classic Escape From New York is next up on the chopping block. Most of us agree this is a terrible idea, but one that, unfortunately, appears inevitable.
In the film, Kurt Russell plays one of the ultimate cinematic badasses, Snake Plissken. And when talking of rebooting Escape, casting the eye-patch wearing outlaw has to be the first order of business. Jeremy Renner (The Avenger) and Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) were both rumored to be up for the role in a previous incarnation, but a new report from the New York Daily News says that a couple of Brits, Jason Statham (The Expendables) and Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), will battle for the part. Their source says, “Studio Canal wants to make sure they get one of the two men before the summer.”
I’m 100% against tampering with Escape From New York, and when I rule the world, things like this will warrant a public flogging. But there’s nothing I can do about this current situation, so let’s attempt to talk about it as if it doesn’t make us cringe.
At least in this instance they’re talking about casting actors who potentially fit the role. Statham is a one-trick pony as far as acting goes, but his gruff, tough-guy aesthetic and low-budget action heroics line up fairly well with the world of Plissken. A man of action more than a character who wants to sit down and talk things out, you can imagine Statham fighting his way through the gang-infested streets of a Manhattan that has been converted into a futuristic prison. Granted, this updated Plissken will have to have a much different haircut. The idea of Statham wearing a wig that mimics Russell’s flowing locks is just too comical.
Hardy is the better actor of these two, and definitely has more range as a performer. He has the ability to infuse tough characters with depth, personality, and feeling, as we’ve seen in films like Bronson and Layer Cake. But do we need Snake Plissken to have emotions, or do we just want him to kick ass? The original incarnation may be a tough-guy with a heart of gold, but he’s certainly not the touchy-feely type. Lucky for us, Hardy has a handle on the physical side of things as well, with roles like The Dark Knight Rises‘ Bane. He’s also shown he’s not afraid to tackle iconic roles made famous by other actors, such as Max Rockatansky in the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road.
I do like both actors, and they would each bring different facets to the part. When choosing between the lesser of two evils, which would you rather see tarnish the legacy of Snake Plissken?
In the meantime, you can go ready why we think Russell could still kick both their asses right here.