Mel Gibson has been hired to co-write and direct Hollywood's long-gestating remake of The Wild Bunch. The original 1969 revisionist Western movie, directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring William Holden, has been a consistent feature in many best-of genre lists and has been included in the U.S. Library of Congress for its artistic and cultural significance.
The Wild Bunch followed an aging outlaw band caught up in changing times and a last job gone terribly wrong. Though the film's violent content met with some controversy upon release, it's become a classic of American film. Director Tony Scott was originally attached to a remake, but his untimely death in 2012 put the project on hold indefinitely. There were rumors of a Will Smith-led version shortly thereafter, but that project never materialized.
According to THR, the remake has been revived with Gibson at the helm. Despite the high-profile nature of remaking Peckinpah's classic, the film would begin production sometime after the completion of Gibson's next movie, the WWII-themed drama Destroyer. The article goes on to note that it would be right in Gibson's wheelhouse, having received accolades for his work on historical epics like Braveheart and Apocalypto.
The director has had his share of ups and downs over the last decade, but his stardom has been back on the rise of late. His most recent directorial effort, 2016's Hacksaw Ridge, earned nominations for Best Director, Best Picture, and a number of other awards. The success of that film even saw his name come up on a Warner Bros. shortlist to direct the sequel to Suicide Squad, though he ended up passing on the project.
To be fair, The Wild Bunch would fit much better into Gibson's work as a director. His films engage with violent material on a deeper thematic level than most comic book movies, a deliberate choice on his part and something he's spoken about before. Rather than bloodless action spectacles, he tends to spend more time with the characters and the effect that violence has on them, even if it has led to criticism of his work as being somewhat masochistic (as South Park pointed out way back in season 8).
That focus on the ugly nature of violence and the struggle to maintain identity in the face of it should fit right in with the legacy Peckinpah left behind. It's still far too early to guess what kind of approach Gibson will take with the material, but it's an intriguing combination and one that should excite both Western cinephiles and those who just want to see what one of the industry's biggest names does next.