Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Let’s get the good news out of the way first. It’s a big announcement day for the Scott brothers, with the more frenetic Tony Scott‘s publicists dropping word that he’s still working to make Hell’s Angels. Specifically, he wants Jeff Bridges to play iconic Hell’s Angels leader Sonny Barger. That’s great casting. I’m not going to say what I think about Sonny Barger here, because the last time I did that I heard from his attorney. Suffice to say that he’s led a colorful, controversial life and — even directed by Tony Scott — Jeff Bridges would be fantastic as Barger on-screen.
That might take some time to get underway, however, if it happens at all. See, not long ago, everyone suddenly remembered that Jeff Bridges is great, and his dance card is pretty full at the moment. So while Tony Scott waits for Hell’s Angels to come together he’s proving that old adage about idle hands doing the devil’s work. Specifically, he’s in talks to remake The Wild Bunch. Seriously? Seriously.
Deadline reports on both projects, saying only that Scott is in talks for The Wild Bunch. We’ve known since January that a remake of Sam Peckinpah‘s most famous film was a possibility with some priority at Warner Bros., but this is the first time we’ve had a director’s name attached.
I’m generally open to the idea of remakes. Earlier this week I wrote a feature breathlessly admiring Cronenberg’s The Fly. The remake doesn’t have to be bad. But someone remaking Cronenberg’s very specific version of The Fly (even Cronenberg himself) would seem weird, right? So it goes with The Wild Bunch. Sam Peckinpah heavily rewrote Roy Sickner and Walon Green’s script for The Wild Bunch, hired some of the best damn character actors ever to populate the canon of western films, and created an unassailable piece of work. It is a small, quiet, personal movie wrapped in a big, loud, violent cocoon.
Someone can make a movie in which characters do many of the things that Peckinpah’s characters did. Someone can make a movie called The Wild Bunch. But recreating Peckinpah’s specific film seems like supreme foolhardiness.
Saying that Tony Scott is exactly the wrong person to remake that movie implies that someone is right for it, which I don’t think is the case. I’ll run with the notion that Scott is very, very wrong for this regardless. I say that even as someone who was relatively impressed with parts of Unstoppable, specifically the ways in which that movie was a big action film where the main characters were mostly immobile. But the camera kept swooping around, and all the movie around those relatively immobile protagonists was still a Tony Scott movie, and that’s not what The Wild Bunch is.
The good final note here, I suppose, is that Tony Scott has been part of other remake efforts in the recent past. Remember The Warriors? That one has gone nowhere so far. But if Tony Scott doesn’t remake The Wild Bunch, someone else probably will…