I assume at this point that we’re all numb to the never-ending stream of remakes flowing into our theaters. Another one is announced and we no longer sigh or shake our heads. Outrage is long gone. All that’s left is passive acceptance.
But every once in a while, a remake actually has the potential for greatness (unlike, say Robocop). It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that there’s a few genuinely talented filmmakers infiltrating those vast legions of action figure, board game and internet meme adaptations to secretly produce something that’s not a colossal waste of talent, time and money.
The announcement that Hany Abu-Assad has signed on to remake Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance gives me that same warm and fuzzy feeling. Abu-Assad won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Omar, and his previous film Paradise Now was similarly lauded with all manner of awards. This Mr. Vengeance redux might be the rare case where a remake sees an artist offer his own unique take on a film he or she cares deeply about, rather than a cheap ploy to churn out some action figures (or in the case of Stretch Armstrong, to give those action figures the cinematic treatment they apparently deserve).
Mr. Vengeance is a revenge thriller from Korean director Park Chan-wook, and the first installment of a loosely connected trilogy in which all three films are currently being remade – Spike Lee’s Oldboy comes out this fall, and Lady Vengeance is set to star Charlize Theron. The film follows a deaf-mute man as he takes drastic, illegal action to get his sister the kidney transplant she needs. Maybe one day we’ll all look back on this remake trilogy as some fascinating byproduct of the Remake Age.