Continually getting riled up over each great old movie to be forced onto the remake train is pointless, but Tony Scott‘s remake of Walter Hill’s The Warriors seems so wrong-headed that I can’t help but get a little steamed. Rotten Tomatoes reports that Scott’s remake is still a going concern (for a minute, we thought it might be dead) and that it will be set amidst the gang culture of modern Los Angeles.
I’m not doing a straight remake…I’m using the same basic story. It’s really still 10 guys stuck at point B and they need to get back to point A. But I’m going to set it in Los Angeles and it’s going to be a kind of study of gang culture in LA today.
It’s that ‘point A to point B’ summary that bugs me. Because, OK, The Warriors isn’t the apex of cinematic storytelling, but it’s not as simple-minded as Scott makes it seem. There’s the fact that the story was based on a band of Greek mercenaries who were stuck behind Persian lines after Cyrus the Younger attempted to take the Persian throne.
More to the point, there’s the fact that Walter Hill’s movie actually has a mythic, oddly classic feel of its own. The cast, from James Remar to David Patrick Kelley to Dorsey Wright, conveys the sense of a military tribe at odds with the environment and even each other. There’s an intangible quality that makes the movie more than a cartoonish time capsule populated by goofy gangs.
Scott at least seems to recognize that the city almost has to be a character in the film. Late ’70s New York is captured in an incredible way in the original movie. It’s a jaundiced view of the city, sure, but a more memorable one for it. Of the new version Scott says “It’s a city which is horizontal. New York is vertical, all skyscrapers, and Los Angeles is horizontal. I’m hoping to get a hundred thousand real gang-members standing on the Vincent Thomas Bridge for one shot.” Gotta wonder if he’ll face the same problems the original movie did, as real gangs didn’t take so kindly to Hill’s portrayal of their culture.