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Is This the Next Snake Plissken?

By TK Burton | Industry | June 24, 2010 |

By TK Burton | Industry | June 24, 2010 |

Have I mentioned that I’m a big John Carpenter fan? No? Well, I am. Kind of a psychotic one, actually (note: strictly pre-Escape From LA, though we’ll see what happens with The Ward). I’m also rather anti-reborquel, which is why the pending remakes of The Thing and Escape From New York make me grind my teeth flat and cause a seething hot ball of anger boil up in my brain. The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get.

But it’s happening. They both are. Whether I like it or not, whether I bitch about it or not. This doesn’t mean, mind you, that I won’t bitch.

Anyway, the remake of Escape from New York, the Carpenter cult classic about Snake Plissken, an imprisoned former soldier tasked with entering the ruined prison colony/wasteland that once was New York City to rescue the President, is today’s subject. It’s being directed by Breck Eisner, who recently directed the unremarkable remake of Romero’s The Crazies, and who is also responsible for inflicting the dreadful Sahara on us. However, he’s about a billion steps up from Brett Ratner, who was one of the early choices to Ratnerfuck the remake.

Eisner recently spoke to a few different outlets about the new draft (written by Allen Loeb), and some casting possibilities, and here’s what we know so far:

The news that was previously reported (via Vulture) is that it’s not going to be the same ravaged, wrecked Manhattan that it was in the 1981 version, but rather a city that is “geographically undesirable, but intact: This Manhattan was evacuated and turned into a privately run penal colony after the detonation of a crude radioactive dirty bomb on the outskirts of the city.” OK. That’s leaning a bit towards Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, but whatever.

Now, the news comes from ComingSoon that he’s also bringing in a new writer to take a crack at Loeb’s script (which itself is a rewrite). Esiner had this to say:

“The interesting thing about ‘Escape from New York’ is that it was a comment on the urban decay and the suburban flight coming out of the ’70s and early ’80s. Conceptually, it’s an idea that’s not true today because of the world we live in. So, how the prison is created is going to be different than in Carpenter’s version. The anxiety of the world and anxiety of our existence post-9/11 is there, especially the anxiety in Manhattan post-9/11. Plot-wise, they’re different, emotionally they’re very similar. That’s why it’ll be interesting to tackle this movie, to have a slightly different take but with the same results which is Manhattan is turned into a walled prison.”

The whole “plot-wise, they’re different” bit annoys me. Whenever that happens with remakes, I can’t help but thinking, “then just make a different movie.” It’s just cashing in on the name (although the average person probably hasn’t even seen Escape, but whatever). Regardless, the “post 9/11” buzzword was almost inevitable — you can’t base an action movie in NYC these days without it coming into play somehow.

Finally, casting: This one is nothing but rumor/conjecture, but it’s a doozy, and one that if it happened, I’d find myself skipping in a circle. Timothy Olyphant. He starred in Eisner’s The Crazies, but most of us know and love him from HBO’s “Deadwood,” where he established himself as an excellent actor and a genuine bad motherfucker (personally, I first dug him in Go and The Girl Next Door, a guilty pleasure of mine). I have to say, if you’re bandying about names, you could do far worse than Seth Bullock. Eisner had this to say about the prospect when he recently spoke to Movieweb:

“Creatively, he would be great for it. We have not yet discussed internally within the studio who will play Snake Plissken. There are many factors that go into those discussions. First and foremost, obviously, is the creative one. We can’t make the movie unless we get the perfect Snake Plissken, and that’s a tall order. There are very few guys that could do it. He would definitely be one of the guys who could. There is no question about that.”

So, something of a pipe dream. But a damn fine one, and better than the original choice of Gerard Butler. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more, and as I try not to punch kittens in frustration.

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TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.