David Fincher, Ben Affleck and Gillian Flynn Re-team for Strangers On a Train Remake

By  · Published on January 13th, 2015

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Criss-cross! If you thought Gone Girl was Hitchcockian, wait till you see what the gang is up to next. According to Deadline, David Fincher will re-team with writer Gillian Flynn and actor Ben Affleck for a fresh, much-altered remake of Strangers on a Train. The 1951 classic, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is about two men who meet and arrange a murder swap, although one of them wasn’t actually being serious about the idea. It was sort of already redone as the underrated 1987 comedy Throw Mama From the Train, directed by Danny De Vito. This next version, like the original to be an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, will change things up almost as much. Instead of a famous tennis pro, Ben Affleck is filling the Farley Granger part as a movie star at the height of his career (with Oscar buzz!), who meets a stranger on a plane – or at least meets a stranger than accept a ride from him on his private plane.

The question is, will the title now be Strangers on a Plane (or Strangers Who Meet and Then Share a Ride in a Private Plane Owned by One of Them)? You can’t really keep the original title if there are no trains in the movie, right? Also, will it end at an amusement park with a big stunt involving a carousel? Will it feature the famous balloon popping by whoever plays the other guy? Who will play the other guy? Can it be Neil Patrick Harris? Please? And can Rosamund Pike briefly appear as Affleck’s wife? Emily Ratajkowski can play Ruth Roman’s role. There needs to be parts for Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Casey Wilson and definitely Scoot McNairy, too. Full reunion, and almost too closely similar to the last collaboration of this bunch. But if it works once…

As maybe our greatest thriller director since Hitchcock, Fincher is the right man for such a task, and I like that there’s enough altered that it might even look more like a Gone Girl remake than Strangers on a Train (or that Gone Girl sequel Flynn says could happen). Regarding the climax with the carousel, though, if the new version were to have something like it or something else of equal spectacle, I’d love for it to be something that goes down in the books as famously. Fincher’s digital effects mastery would have no trouble handling something of the sort today, but in its time that was one incredible practical set piece. I dare these guys to try and top it in a way that not only looks impressive but sounds impressive in its achievement. I also dare Affleck to give a good enough performance to warrant an Oscar nod, because you know the mainstream media would have fun joking about how Jennifer Garner better watch out.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.