escape from new york leigh whannell

Leigh Whannell is keeping busy. The writer and filmmaker behind Upgrade was recently announced as the director of Universal’s Invisible Man remake. Now, he’s also closed a deal to write the Escape from New York remake. There’s currently no deal in place for Whannell to direct theremake of the John Carpenter classic, but the option is there if he wants it.

THR broke the news about Whannell writing the Escape From New York remake, and I honestly don’t know how to feel about this. I’m of the firm opinion that no John Carpenter movie should ever be remade, because no filmmaker can come close to what he did with the same material. But I’m also a big fan of Whannell’s work. Not only did he write and direct the incredibly entertaining Upgrade, he also penned the scripts for Dead Silence and Insidious. 

The original Escape From New York, released in 1981, was set in a future where Manhattan has been walled-off and turned into a massive high-security prison where criminal gangs run wild. That’s all well and good – until Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists, leading the President (Donald Pleasence) to eject via escape pod and end up in the heart of the prison city. The authorities send former Special Forces solider and current criminal Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) in to rescue him. It’s one of Carpenter’s best films, filled with iconic moments, gritty and dark cinematography courtesy of Dean Cundey, and a killer performance from Russell. Carpenter later followed Escape From New York up with the cheesy but entertaining Escape From L.A.

A potential Escape From New York remake has been knocking around for a while. At one point, Robert Rodriguez was attached to direct, with a script from Luther creator Neil Cross. Nothing personal against Rodriguez, but I’m glad that never happened.

As for Whannell’s approach, THR says the writer is “kickstarting Escape with a new vision for the project that sources say will retain elements of the original but bring new ideas to the table. One of Whannell’s goals is to avoid the bloated tentpole remake path that afflicted the reboots of other 1980s-era movies such as Robocop and Total Recall.” That’s promising, and I have faith that Whannell will actually put some thought, and heart, into this material. But I still can’t help but cringe at the idea of anyone remaking a Carpenter movie.

The big question here is: who do you get to snap on Snake Plissken’s (and Kurt Russell’s) eyepatch? My suggestion, obvious as it may be, is Russell’s son, Wyatt Russell. Having just watched Overlord, I can attest to the fact that the younger Russell can do a pretty spot-on imitation of his dad. But that might not be what Whannell is looking for.

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