Hollywood has always been a sequel factory. To think otherwise, and to claim that it was once some sort of dignified and intellectually restless hive of creation, would be foolish. Nevertheless it is undeniable that in the past decade or so there has been at times an almost suffocating tide of sequels, prequels, reboots, soft-reboots, and whatever the hell the pure, miraculous creation that Mad Max: Fury Road is. But the point is not to shit on sequels per se, as the individual movies themselves have been of hugely varying quality (ranging from the incoherent dreck of Transformers: One of the Later Ones to the masterpiece that is the aforementioned Fury Road). It’s more that there is often a gross injustice to which movies get sequels, and which don’t. Not so much a financial injustice, as—what with the movie industry being just that, an industry—a sequel made is more often than not a sequel earned. Perhaps ‘creative injustice’ would be a better way to describe it.
Or, even better: ‘Justice for me and my particular taste in movies.’
Whatever the best descriptor for it, here is a list of the movies that for various reasons we would really like to see sequels to.
Like, NOW, goddammit!
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2005)
Look, I don’t really like this movie very much. I mean, it’s okay. It’s fine. But y’all are nuts for it. And that’s fine too! So partly out of consideration for you, and partly because I think there was room for improvement in a sequel (a planned follow-up did exist at one point, with some overtures being made to its development even well after the movie bombed), I have decided to include it here. While I think the finished product was nothing special, it did seem that the central trio’s chemistry was potent and easy enough so as to lend itself well to more vintage spy hijinks. After all, this U.N.C.L.E. literally ends with them setting up U.N.C.L.E. So let them have a go at it. Besides, don’t you just feel awful for poor Guy ‘Just Can’t Get a Franchise To Keep Going’ Ritchie? Although to be fair it might not be his fault, those white male directors just keep producing bomb after bomb.
(NOTE: This piece was written before the news of Henry Cavill leaving his cape behind. Yes I’m implying causality. Butt chin Cavill is now free to do another U.N.C.L.E. You can thank me later, U.N.C.L.E. nerds.)
Office Space (1999)
One of the most perfectly pitched cinematic portrayals of what working life was like at a certain time and place ever made, Mike Judge’s Office Space has such strong chrono-specificity that it would at first seem foolish to try update it for a more modern age. This was after all a comedy built on the dehumanising effects of finding yourself adrift in anonymous cubicles, a prisoner under fluorescent lights, and—crucially—at the mercy of technology that was simultaneously advanced enough to appear as magic, and not advanced enough to actually get the job done in a reliable enough way. In the almost two decades since its release, the nature of office life has morphed a fair bit. Especially when it comes to the technology. But as the woman once said: The more things change the more they stay the same. We may have insanely more advanced technology now, but it’s the law of the universe that with every advance in convenience comes a commensurate innovation in annoyance, and I would be keen to see how Judge (or anyone else taking up the mantle, really) might be able to skewer a smartphone and social media-infested workplace. Just make sure to bring back Lawrence.
Black Dynamite (2009)
Sometimes it feels as if we’ve all forgotten about the insane achievement that was Michael Jai White’s lovingly crafted blaxploitation spoof, Black Dynamite. White, who wrote, starred, and directed the movie, also shot it in just 20 days, which is just another thing to consider when trying to wrap your head around the multiple ways that Black Dynamite succeeds. It’s tight, hilarious, and supremely quotable. Never trust anyone who doesn’t like Black Dynamite. Imagine what White could do with another entry. A self-aware, meta-sequel akin to 22 Jump Street, poking fun at itself and its nature as a sequel, all the while providing another embarrassingly rich slate of quotes, and a diabolical whitey for Dynamite to take down. It’s doubtful whether any sequel would ever be able to produce a line so perfectly written and delivered as ‘Ah, hush up little girls. Lotta cats have that name.’ But I would certainly love to see it try.
Officially a sequel itself to the messy, overblown Chronicles of Riddick, 2013’s Riddick is a curious beast. While technically a narrative continuation of the franchise that began with 2000’s lean, mean Pitch Black (which introduced Vin Diesel’s ice cold uber space convict to the world) it also feels like a bit of a series reset, if not reboot. Stripping away all the excess Star Wars-esque expanded universe baggage of Chronicles, Riddick returns its titular character to what he does best: Terrorising a small group of mercenaries, bounty hunters, and assorted badasses who no longer seem very badass when they’re reflected in Riddick’s shiny knife and meticulously shaved scalp. If series creator David Twohy could also strip away all the needless misogyny that Riddick was shot through with I would gladly watch two or three more variations on the theme.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
I am a—how could I put this—a huge melted fuckpuddle of a fan, of Richard Linklater. So much so that over the years he’s somehow started to threaten both the Coen brothers’ and David Fincher’s previously unassailable positions at the top of my Favourite Directors pile. Linklater’s follow-up to the majesty that was Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!!, was a much more low-key affair than that giant. It is an incredibly bro-y movie about some bros who hang out just before the start of college in the early 80’s and do bro stuff and nothing really happens. It shouldn’t be as good as it is. In the hands of a lesser director it would be exactly as unnecessary as that description makes it sound. But this kind of stuff is Linklater’s home ground, and just like with so many other of his movies in which ostensibly ‘nothing happens’, the ‘nothing’ is actually the vital, often languid beat of life itself. A wonderful cast delivers a script so naturalistic in its rhythms it draws you in completely and makes you feel like you’re there, present with them the entire time. Everybody Wants Some!! was marketed as an 80’s successor of sorts to Linklater’s iconic 70’s-infused Dazed and Confused, and though there’s no narrative continuity or anything like that, it might as well be considered as such. Recently, Captain Marvel made everyone go gaga for the nineties with that one photo of her, but I for one would be much more excited by the prospect of the poet laureate of sweet nostalgia taking a crack at the decade that still seems so mighty recent to a lot of us but is in fact receding awfully quickly into the hazy past.
Before Midnight (2013)
Before Sunset and Before Midnight are the only direct sequels that Richard Linklater has ever made. They are also arguably the most welcome sequels in movie history. 1995’s Before Sunrise is a wonderful film, and had Linklater had left the story hanging there, at Jesse and Celine’s ambiguous parting on a crisp morning at a Vienna train station platform, it would’ve remained a perfect little story of youthful romance and the sense of infinite promise and tremulous uncertainty that comes with it. But he didn’t leave it there. Or, well, he did. For nine years. In one of the best (and at first unplanned) moves in cinematic scheduling, Linklater and his cast would return to the young lovers, and they would pick up the story of their lives nearly a decade later. Before Sunset would provide answers for the ending of Before Sunrise, enriching the previous entry in the process, but it would also ask more questions as it went on, before, in a flourish of maddening genius, ending on an almost identical emotional cliffhanger like its predecessor. Then, another nine years later, the trio would sneak up on us again, continuing the thread of this wonderfully conceived story in the mature and at times devastating Before Midnight. Now, Jesse and Celine are married. They have children together. They fight as only a couple who know each other so well can fight. We’ve seen them grow together as we have grown too with them, living our lives parallel to theirs. It’s no secret that I think the Before Trilogy is one of the crowning achievements of American cinema. It’s nigh-on unimaginable that Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke won’t return to us again, in another four years time, to give us another glimpse of Jesse and Celine. They’re out there somewhere after all, we just need a window to open so we can check in on them again.
They Live (1998)
If they were to ever make a They Live sequel they would of course, sadly, have to do it without the iconic presence of Roddy Piper. The 1988 John Carpenter original is rightly regarded as a classic of (this is quite a mouthful) science fiction action horror, and Piper—with his hulking presence and charmingly stilted delivery—is a key part of that. But though Piper may give it its colourful flair but the movie has plenty to say even without considering him. A satire of 1980’s conformist, hyper-consumerist culture and the turbo capitalism that was just then rising in the West, it doesn’t take much of a leap of imagination to see how its critique could be updated for 2018, an era in which that turbo capitalism first begun by Reagan and Thatcher as a daring, fringe movement has become a destructive, worldwide orthodoxy. Here’s a pitch: Take a deeply entrenched, virulently racist Trump voter, slap those specs of truth on him, and watch what happens when the fog of bullshit and indoctrination is lifted.
Eastern Promises (2007)
More Naked Russian Mobster Viggo Fights.
Låt den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In) (2008)
Tomas Alfredson’s dark vampiric coming of age story is pure cinema. Intelligent, visceral, and full of pathos and striking imagery, it’s basically flawless. It tells the tale of young Oskar, a bullied and sensitive boy, who befriends a young girl, Eli, who turns out to be a murderous vampire (bit of a tautology there, but these days with all the different variations on the form it’s sometimes necessary to specify). The two experience a budding, pre-teen/eternal agelessness romance of sorts, and the story of two lost souls finding each other amidst the cold, forbidding backdrop of a Stockholm suburb (occasionally warmed up by freshly spilled blood) is an oddly heartwarming experience. The film asks some difficult questions too, as Oskar’s terrible experiences of having been bullied have in all likelihood set him down a dark path, a path which Eli is a both a representation, and enabler, of. It’s a deep film with complex layers, in other words. So why not popcorn it up a bit for a sequel! Eli And Oskar: Manhunters. See the murderous couple, a few years down the line. She needs to feed on human blood; he needs to satisfy his vengeful spirit. It’s fun for the whole family! Watch as Eli decapitates a vulnerable, lonely, middle aged man! Gasp as Oskar lures some douchebag bully that starts on him in a bar into a dark alley so that Eli can decapitate him! Shudder as the weight of his actions begins to settle on Oskar and slowly drives him to madness and somehow there’s another decapitation!
On second thought maybe keep the tone of the original for any potential sequel.
Free Fire (2016)
Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire is not exactly a towering work of art. But it doesn’t need to be. It’s a 90 minute-long shootout in a warehouse featuring Brie Larson, Cilian Murphy, Armie Hammer, and Sharlto Copley all decked up in their best 70’s threads and firing as many expletives at each other as bullets. Plus Copley keeps his native South African accent. And he sleazes and weasels it the fuck up. It’s basically the maximum amount of Sharlto Copley that is allowed in any one movie. It’s a great, light bit of diverting fun. I’m not sure how a direct sequel could work exactly, considering the way things end up here, but I’d leave the specifics up to Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump. I would just like to see more.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
I mean, Fury Road is quite possibly the greatest action movie ever made. I know I’m preaching to the choir but it’s true. What can I say about George Miller’s miracle of a movie that hasn’t been said already? I wrote a whole piece just gushing over that intro sequence for god’s sake. Miller’s fully (and I mean completely, absolutely insanely) realised world was indeed meant to accommodate a sequel or two. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa, probably the best modern action character (alongside John Wick), was to be the focus of a continuing story, but those punch drunk shitgibbons at Warner Brothers have locked any production down while they bicker over a money dispute with Miller. The man is 73 years old! He won’t always be able to decamp to the desert to create a fiery operatic ballet of twisted metal and screaming carnage! Let him do it while he can!
Serbuan maut 2: Berandal (The Raid 2) (2014)
Just. More of The Raid please. I’m sure we can all agree on that, right? Maybe scale it down a little bit again, as the increased sprawl of the second movie let it down a little bit in my opinion, but other than that—full speed ahead!
Just. More of Gina Carano wrecking a lot of big name actors’ shit please. In suits and classy dresses. I’m sure we can all agree on that too, right? Soderbergh will probably have retired for the eighth time by the time any possible sequel could happen, but that’s fine. Just give him a minute and he’ll un-retire again.
Grosse Point Blank (1997)
One of the great low-key masterpieces of the nineties, John Cusack’s Grosse Point Blank ends of course with his formerly existentially challenged hitman, Martin, and his old-love-new-love, Debbie (Minnie Driver) getting the hell out of town after their ten year high school reunion (and Martin’s final contracts as a hitman) goes belly up. Martin had come back to Grosse Point to not only fulfill these contracts, but to attempt to dissolve some of the angst that had been creeping up on him ever since he snapped in a moment of despair and abandoned Debbie on prom night ten years earlier. Instead of going to prom he joined the army and then eventually became a killer for hire. That’s not quite the whole story, though, as the angst had been there before, leading to the snap in the first place. That, combined with all the horrific violence that Martin has seen—and, according to him, grown to like—means that there is just no way that it’s happy ever after for him after the credits role roll on Grosse Point. And that’s not even mentioning the nature of Martin and Debbie’s relationship. Let’s not forget this is one built on abandonment, lies, and murder. I wouldn’t dare question Debbie’s agency, but if there is a touch of Stockholm Syndrome woven into that DNA, it wouldn’t surprise me.
You know what, all this actually sounds depressing as hell. I think I’ve talked my way out of wanting a sequel.
Karl Urban, He Of The Glower And Frown, was born to play Judge Dredd. And Dredd, that nifty little rampage of a flick, was one of the most pleasant surprises of recent years. There was no indication, really, that it would be as much breakneck, violent fun as it was. Urban and Olivia (Best Olivia?) Thirlby made a great pair as they wound their way up a Raid-esque tower block in an effort to bring down Lena Headey’s deranged, scenery chewing drug kingpin. To a lot of people, Dredd was a sensual feast that they couldn’t get enough of. Unfortunately not to enough people though, as the movie didn’t gross nearly enough for it to automatically warrant a sequel. Urban himself has said he’d be up for donning the iconic mask again, however, so maybe there’s room to dream.
Un prophète (A Prophet) (2009)
Find any list of the greatest movies of the new millennium and if it doesn’t have Jacques Audiard’s sweeping prison odyssey on it then it’s pointless and wrong. We follow an Algerian youth (Tahar Rahim) on his journey through the prison system as he rises and transforms from a lowly nobody with no connections to something far more dangerous and sinister. An incredibly raw portrayal of desperation, ethnic identity in the French state, and life inside a punitive prison system, A Prophet also drew a detailed picture of the self-reinforcing, one-way trajectory of crime, inevitably inviting comparisons to The Godfather from many quarters. The Godfather is, of course, one of the most technically dazzling films ever made, but Audiard’s picture managed to stand tall in the face of that daunting comparison. It truly is a breathtaking achievement. And, like The Godfather itself led to a sequel that arguably bettered it—and certainly enriched it—so too could A Prophet, especially with the way it ends, go to some very special places in a potential sequel. Do it, Audiard! Do it!
And now, a few contributions from some of those other scoundrels who work here:
The Greatest Showman: The Musical. Less a sequel, and more a reimagining, but the idea is the movie is being turned into a Broadway show, and the “sequel” follows the actors embracing the show’s radical acceptance message while also ridiculing the anachronistic bullshit about Barnum himself. I’m completely serious about all of this.
10 Things I Hate About You, but about Kat Stratford as an English teacher out of fucks to give encountering a new generation of angry young women and the men who love them exactly as they are.
I want to see John Cusack and Ione Skye struggle with marital malaise in their middle-age years in ‘Say Something, Anything!’
TK and Seth:
Wanted. See, I hated Wanted. But TK and Seth both agreed that this was indeed a movie that fucks. And lemme tell you: Those two agreeing on something is, I think, the first or maybe second, sign of the coming apocalypse. So we might as well roll with it and hasten that along. It’ll be a quicker death than if we’re just left to our own devices as a species anyway.
12 Avatar sequels.
Header Image Source: Warner Bros