papillon remake

The big problem with remaking any movie that starred Steve McQueen is that you have to, you know, find someone to play a role that was played by Steve McQueen. So the newly announced remake of the prison escape drama Papillon is already at a creative deficit. 2015 does not breed men like McQueen – it breeds men who are fit to be the guy McQueen beats up in the first scene to prove what a tough customer he is! We jest of course, but come on. It’s going to be hard to find an actor from any time period who’s that cool.

The official report on the Papillon remake doesn’t contain any clues about when or if Hollywood will try to clone Steve McQueen, but you can parse through the details yourself after the jump.

As with all movies that are little more than an announcement in Variety, there’s not much to be known about the Papillon remake yet. We know that Aaron Guzikowski, who wrote 2013’s Prisoners, is responsible for the screenplay and that Red Granite Pictures, the production company that blessed our filthy little souls with The Wolf of Wall Street, is producing. Danish director Michael Noer is attached the project, but anything can happen between now and whenever (if ever) this thing goes before cameras. After all, there were rumors of a Papillon remake seven years ago and that never came together.

The original Papillon, released in 1973 and based on the heavily fictionalized autobiography of French convict Henri Charriere, follows a petty criminal who is wrongfully accused of murder and tossed into a prison in French Guiana. As you’d imagine, being in prison in French Guiana kinda sucks. With the help of a fellow convict played by Dustin Hoffman, he attempts to escape. Repeatedly. For years. It’s like The Shawshank Redemption stripped of warm feelings and joy. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a fine movie, notable for its dark and merciless and oh-so-’70s aura.

Of course, the remake is going to have to find actors who can fill in for McQueen and Hoffman, which is a tall order. If we ran The Movies, we’d cast Daniel Craig and Michael Stuhlbarg in those roles, but we don’t run The Movies – we can only toss our suggestions into the wind. Of course, the other option is to clone McQueen and grant Hoffman access to the Philosopher’s Stone, but the waiting list was awfully long last time we checked.

One of the more interesting nuggets of news here is the placement of Noer in the director’s chair. Although I have only seen one of his movies, Northwest is a rock solid crime thriller made by a seriously promising filmmaker. Low budget but confidently made, it’s a strong, underseen entry in the “young criminals bite off more than they can chew and face the consequences” subgenre. He’s an interesting choice and hopefully Hollywood will be kind to him. The American film industry has a bad habit of chewing up and spitting out talented foreign directors, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed. It’s hard to get too excited for a remake of Papillon at this point, but it’s easy to get excited to see this guy get a big opportunity like this.

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