Will Smith recently revealed that he turned down Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning western “Django Unchained” because his character “wasn’t the lead” and didn’t get to “kill the bad guy.” It was, in a word, movie star logic.
And that’s fair enough. Even if there are those of us who think a movie like that is just what a guy like Will Smith could use at this point in his career, his career is his own. But I guess he still had a hankering for the wild west (if “Wild Wild West” didn’t beat it out of him, that is), as he is reportedly eying a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch.” But, well, it’s not that simple…
Smith’s “Wild Bunch,” according to The Wrap, would be a modern retelling. It would involve cartels south of the border and would follow a disgraced D.E.A. agent who assembles a team to go after a Mexican drug lord and his fortune. The original film was nominated for two Oscars, for Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay.
Now, I should say I don’t consider Peckinpah’s film to be the crown jewel of the western genre that so many others do. But I do think it’s a singular piece of filmmaking that probably doesn’t need a remake. At the same time, the air of being untouchable might be wearing off the director’s filmography a bit after Rod Lurie saddled up to a “Straw Dogs” remake a few years back. And doing it in a modern setting will make it all go down a bit easier, I imagine. (Though it might have gone down even easier by taking the “Assault on Precinct 13” or “Fort Apache, the Bronx” route, remakes of/films inspired by westerns that didn’t evoke the original directly.)
It’s funny, though, because in discussing his plans to remake the French film “36th Precinct” recently, “Out of the Furnace” director Scott Cooper mentioned “The Wild Bunch” specifically as the sort of film that shouldn’t be touched. Doing so is “a really bad idea,” he told me. I imagine he had the attempted reboot in mind as this is a project that has been bouncing around for a while. “End of Watch” director David Ayer was hired to write a script at one point and Tony Scott was developing it with “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River” writer Brian Helgeland once upon a time.
I bring all that up simply because that is going to be a big part of the story here, and I put the question to you: Is remaking “The Wild Bunch” a bad idea in principle? Vote in our poll below.
Smith will next be seen in M. Night Shyamalan’s “After Earth” this summer.