It’s not clear whether America has forgiven Mel Gibson or not, but Hollywood apparently has. In 2006, the actor and filmmaker was arrested for drunk driving, during which he launched into an anti-Semitic rant. Four years after that, his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva released audio of him spouting racist epithets. Two years ago, Gibson directed a film, Hacksaw Ridge, that was nominated for a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Today, Variety is reporting he will helm a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s classic ultra-violent Western The Wild Bunch.
Gibson’s next film — whose original starred William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, and Ben Johnson as aging outlaws — will be produced by a major studio, Warner Bros. By contrast, Hacksaw Ridge was an international co-production that was released in America by the second-tier Summit Entertainment. Gibson has mostly been keeping a low profile during the 2010s, mostly playing villains in sequels like Machete Kills and The Expendables 3.
After Hacksaw Ridge, in which Gibson did not appear, Hollywood tested the waters, casting him as Mark Wahlberg’s scary dad in Daddy’s Home 2. The sequel made less than its predecessor, but Gibson didn’t torpedo it. Still, he’s staying small, as is in the crooked cop indie drama Dragged Across Concrete, alongside his Hacksaw supporting player Vince Vaughn. But staying small makes sense: Gibson’s antics are still being lampooned in the likes of the new season of BoJack Horseman.
Uncomfortable though it is to see Gibson score a big-time gig, he’s probably the perfect person to redo The Wild Bunch. For one thing, he’ll undoubtedly ramp up the gore; the 1969 original was a watershed moment in movie violence, but it’s nothing compared to the barf-o-rama that was Hacksaw Ridge.
For another, the original is about damaged and sadistic men who’ve been permanently kicked out of polite society, who wander the earth looking for purpose in a world that no longer has use for them. Say what you will, but if nothing else Mel Gibson’s The Wild Bunch will be fascinating. We’ll just have to see if the controversial star makes it before or after his Passion of the Christ sequel.