While I wasn't the biggest fan of “Lone Survivor,” I was impressed with the way they managed to turn it into a genuine hit. It's a pretty stark and brutal story, but Mark Wahlberg worked overtime to help sell the movie, and it's obvious that it came from a place of real passion for him.
Peter Berg has such a strange filmography at this point that I've basically given up trying to guess what he'll do next. I always walk in hoping for him to put it all together as well as he does in films like “Friday Night Lights” or “The Rundown,” because I think he's got the chops. I like that he's done some of everything at this point. Looking at how he shoots action in “Hancock,” for example, or even in “Lone Survivor,” he's got a sense for how to build a sequence. I just think he's been hindered by scripts at times. I like how he shot “Battleship,” but I don't like the actual story being told.
It's exciting to hear that Berg and Wahlberg will collaborate for “The Six Billion Dollar Man,” because there's plenty of potential in that idea. Universal's been trying to make a new updated version of this property for at least 20 years now, so I'm a little surprised to see that this is now in the hands of the Weinsteins. One of the earliest Hollywood script assignments that Kevin Smith took after he broke with “Clerks” was writing a version of what was still “The Six MIllion Dollar Man” at that point. There have been comedy versions, action versions, hybrids of the two.
I'm old enough to actually remember the show when it was on the air. I had the action figures. I had a lunchbox. I thought the show was really, really cool. When they released the complete series DVD set a year or two ago, I picked it up and started trying to watch a few episodes, and I'm shocked at how different it is from what I remember. This is why I find nostalgia so fascinating. So often, people's feelings about a thing are disconnected from the actual thing, and they're more about when something came out or who they were at the time. While there's some name recognition value for “The Six Billion Dollar Man,” Universal has a pretty much blank slate to tell any story they want.
There was a book that actually came first, “Cyborg,” and it's got a much more grim and straight-faced tone than the show, which is a very odd mix of tones. Whichever writer Dimension Films brings on to work with Berg and Wahlberg, their biggest trick is going to be figuring out what kind of movie this is. According to the report on Deadline, Universal may actually have a financial stake in this version. Wahlberg's got a lot of things lined up already, so we'll see when they end up ready to go in front of the camera on this.
For now, it's an intriguing prospect, if nothing else.
You can see Mark Wahlberg in “The Gambler,” in theaters January 1, 2015.