Yes, the Escape From New York remake is still happening. And no, they're not going to remain super-faithful to the original. Possible spoilers ahead!
The Wrap has gleaned some details about the proposed reboot of John Carpenter‘s 1981 sci-fi/action classic, a project that has been in development for a decade and has passed from New Line Cinema to Warner Bros. to its current home at 20th Century Fox. Neal Cross, best known as the creator of the gritty BBC crime drama Luther, got the assignment last year to write the screenplay and turned in his first draft a little over a month ago -- a script that The Wrap seems to have gotten a look at.
In the original, Kurt Russell played Snake Plissken, a former Special Forces soldier turned criminal who is given a chance to redeem himself by rescuing the president of the United States, whose plane has crashed inside the walls of what used to be Manhattan Island and is now the world's largest maximum security prison. The movie, one of Carpenter‘s best, established Russell as an action star and influenced countless dystopian action films in its wake.
So how does the new version stack up? Here's where the spoilers come in ... but first let's look back fondly at the trailer for the original:
Still with us? Okay. For starters, Manhattan apparently isn't a prison anymore -- which is jarring since that was basically the concept of the entire original movie. Instead, the island will be "breathtakingly lovely ... with more towering glass structures and a high, undulating glass wall. The sky is alive with drones as serene as bees, and artificial intelligence controls all in the form of an ethnically ambiguous, cheery young woman called April."
So if Manhattan isn't a prison, then what is it? It sounds to us like a highly-secure, well-protected utopian enclave, while in the world outside its glass wall, "one in every 75 human begins is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum."
So if we read this right, the remake is turning the concept inside out: New York is no longer a holding pen for the worst of the worst but a high-tech luxury bunker for ... who?
That would be probably be the bad guy, who is no longer the crime boss known as the Duke of New York but Thomas Newton, described as "intensely charismatic" and "the playboy heir to an agrochemical and biotech corporation." It is this fellow who Snake -- who we meet at the beginning of the new script when he's apprehended in another major city outside the U.S. -- is sent into New York to retrieve alive. But Newton has protection of his own, a mysterious fail-safe device known only as Fat Boy, which Snake will no doubt have to deactivate at some point.
Other changes: Bob Hauk, the police commissioner who offers Snake the assignment, played by Lee Van Cleef in the original, is now CIA Deputy Executive Director Roberta Hauk. And while it's not clear whether Snake has an explosive charge set to go off in his carotid artery in 22 hours if he doesn't complete the mission, it doesn't matter anyway, because a massive hurricane called Superstorm Ellery is going to hit Manhattan in 11 hours.
I suppose it's somehow honorable that this new version of Escape From New York is not out to just remake the original scene for scene. But if we've seen one corporate bad guy, we've seen them all, and the whole idea lacks the pulpy elegance of the original story. Of course, the movie could turn out to be great and we might be eating these words a year or two from now.
No star, director or release date have been attached to the project yet, so a lot has to still happen before this goes before the cameras. But what are your thoughts on what you just read? Is this a remake in name only and, if so, does it sound like something that should still be called Escape From New York?