This just in from the If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It department:
Anne Thompson reported yesterday on her Risky Biz blog what sounds like the most convincing evidence yet that Hollywood is officially bereft of ideas. Consider the plans of screenwriter-director David Ayer (he wrote Training Day and Ron Shelton’s unjustly overlooked Dark Blue and has written and directed the upcoming Harsh Times, which was recently quite well received at the Toronto Film Festival)-- he has decided to remake The Wild Bunch.
The subtext underlying any suggestion of tinkering with a film that means so much to so many people is that, of course, it’s just a story, a commodity-- why not bring to it a fresh vision and put it out there to be consumed all over again? After all, can there be too many versions of Romeo and Juliet? (Of course, Baz Luhrmann’s version suggests that, yes, there can…) But what’s being ignored here is the aspect of a great director catching lightning in a bottle-- The Wild Bunch is great for many reasons, not the least of which, as Thompson suggests, is that it was the result (I don’t want to use the word “product”) of a confluence of just the right elements in exactly the right social and political climate, powered by the vision of a driven cinematic artist who was interested in a lot more than watching things blow up real good. I’m not suggesting that it isn’t possible that Ayer won’t make an interesting film. But again Thompson asks exactly the right question, from the director’s point of view—why remake a film that casts such a long, intimidating and definitive shadow? Why set yourself up for almost certain failure to even approach the qualities of the original that have made it, in many people’s eyes, a masterpiece? Why remake a film that betrays absolutely no reason, no need to be remade?