John Carpenter’s dystopian action-thriller Escape from New York (1981) is commonly held up as a cult classic with an iconic protagonist – that of Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), an Old West-style outlaw who wears an eyepatch and has a propensity for gunfighting. In this day and age, it was only a matter of time before the film was remade.
Joel Silver (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon) and Studio Canal are producing the latest attempt at a remake, and if a recent report is to be believed, their top two choices for the role of the ultimate American badass are British actors Jason Statham (The Expendables 3) and Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises).
For those not in the know, the plot of Escape from New York follows the recently arrested Snake as he’s sent to Manhattan Island – now a free-for-all prison with no, ahem, escape - to find and retrieve the President of the United States, whose plane crash-landed inside. To discourage Snake from just making a run for it, the government injects him with microscopic explosives that will erupt inside his carotid arteries and kill him if he fails his mission in 24 hours. Naturally, lighthearted hijinks ensue.
Apparently, the new film will be, at least in part, a prequel in the vein of Rise of the Planet of the Apes that will lead to a trilogy of films. What that means precisely (will it be a sort of prequel/remake hybrid a la The Thing?) is anyone’s guess at this point.
Now, according to an “Hollywood insider close to the film’s producers” – courtesy of NY Daily News – the producers wants to get either Statham or Hardy attached to the role come summer-time. On Statham, the insider said:
“Jason is the type of actor who has the physical attributes and screen presence to reprise Snake. He has a proven track record as a leading man and would do a great job.”
And on Hardy:
“Tom was immense in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and deserves to get a break in a top role. This could put him firmly in the A-list.”
This isn’t the first time an actor from the United Kingdom has been attached to the role of Snake Plissken. When it was announced a few years ago that Gerard Butler would play Snake in an EfNY remake – to be directed by Len “Total Recall remake“ Wisemen - there was a minor backlash to the casting decision with regard to his nationality. Kurt Russell was particularly displeased.
“When I was told [Butler had been cast], my initial reaction was, ‘Oh, man.’ [...] I do think [Snake Plissken] was quintessentially one thing – and that’s American.”
While I don’t exactly agree that quintessentially American characters shouldn’t be played by non-Americans – Henry Cavill looks like a perfect fit for Superman – I do think that the non-American in question should at the very least be able to convincingly pull off being an American. Jason Statham has been great in a number of movies, but he isn’t exactly known for his uncanny American accent. (Did you know that his character from the Transporter series was supposed to be American? Because I did not.)
And that’s on top of the fact that Jason Statham is just a little bit follicly challenged. This wouldn’t be a problem for 99% of characters in 99% of movies, but Snake Plissken is a character known for his voluptuous brunette locks. What’s next – will Snake have both his eyes? Will he have a tattoo of a mongoose instead of a snake? Will he have a really high-pitched voice? Cats and dogs, living together – mass hysteria!
As for Tom Hardy, he’s certainly capable of pulling off an American accent, having done so convincingly in a number of films (Warrior, among others). The only problem with Hardy is that he’s already playing an iconic action hero established in the 1980s (Mad Max) in the upcoming reboot/sequel Mad Max: Fury Road. With Fury Road set to be released next year, how likely is it that the actor has any interest whatsoever in taking on two “reboots” of beloved 1980s franchise films? (Answer: Not very likely.)
Frankly, neither of these actors “scream” Snake Plissken to me, so I’m hopeful that Joel Silver, Silver Pictures, and Studio Canal go in a different direction, though of the two, my preference would definitely be Hardy.
What do you think, Screen Ranters? Would you be interested in seeing either Jason Statham or Tom Hardy take on the role of Snake Plissken? Let us know in the comments.
There’s currently no release date for the Escape from New York remake, but stay tuned for more news as it becomes available.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.
Source: NY Daily News