Does ‘The Raid’ Remake Signal the Age of Taylor Kitsch is Upon Us… Again?

By  · Published on August 6th, 2014

Universal Pictures

Hey, remember that time in 2012 when Taylor Kitsch was poised to become the next great Hollywood leading man? And then he saw two $200M+ films tank in the span of two months and was flung into the depths of Failed Leading Man Hell to rot for all eternity?

It turns out eternity isn’t as long as we expected, and instead it appears he was just biding his time in Failed Leading Man Purgatory. Now that he’s served his time, Kitsch is back, baby, to try this Hollywood star thing all over again.

He’s working hard to secure a part in the second season of True Detective — a lofty goal sure, but it’s not quite “leading man” material ‐ but who knows if Kitsch is even capable enough to wrench the spotlight away from folks like Colin Farrell or Elisabeth Moss. What he needs is to look at the big picture… with an action picture. Something medium-sized would do ‐ high-profile enough to give Kitsch’s career some oomph, while not being so gargantuan that if he accidentally John Carters it, a major studio won’t be going belly-up.

Something like that American redo of The Raid.

And guess what? Kitsch has just been offered the lead role in Screen Gems’ Americanized take on the Indonesian punch-punch-stab-stab classic, The Raid! Funny how these things work out.

Coming from The Wrap, Screen Gems and director Patrick Hughes have approached Kitsch to coax him into kung-fu-ing a bunch of brown people to death. It would work out fine if he lands both gigs as HBO’s series is set to wrap its second season this coming January, and that’s just when Hughes wants to start work on The Raid. If Kitsch is up for the task, that is.

Now, people probably have misgivings about Kitsch ‐ star in a couple of hundred million dollar trainwrecks, and you start to develop a little bit of a failure aura ‐ and they also, assuredly, have some misgivings about a director whose only film of note is the seriously lackluster-looking The Expendables 3. [Editor’s note: Red Hill is actually pretty good.] And don’t forget all those who were dazzled by The Raid, to whom thoughts of a quickie Anglo remake are about as enticing as a plate of clammy canned spinach.

But there might just be a sliver of hope buried under all this financial distress and gross vegetable comparisons. For one, the American Raid has kind of a nifty plot, for a remake. managed to coax these details out of director Hughes:

“Certainly, we’re not there to recreate that film beat for beat, with the set up we’re following a DEA task team, which was implemented by the Bush administration after September 11th when they realized that terrorism and the drug trade were so closely aligned. So they set up a DEA task team that’s six units and they work across borders and sort of act like Navy SEALS. You never read about it, you never hear about it, but they go on these missions. So that’s a really interesting take and a really nice premise and also what’s interesting on this take on it is the clash of cultures and the clash of martial arts, the fighting styles, which is something that’s going to be a lot of fun when we’ve really started pre-vizzing stuff.”

“Clash of cultures” is a phrase we want to hear. An American The Raid that’s just a bunch of American dudes fighting American slumlords with non-spectacular fighting moves? Meh. American Raiders barging into an Indonesian (maybe) slum, and having to persevere after getting their collective asses handed to them via pencak silat? Yes, please.

Kitsch also might be something of a secret weapon for The Raid: Hamburger Redemption. Because while his Gambit might have been an embarrassment of a superhero in a festering garbage pile of a movie Kitsch trained in boxing and martial arts staff-work to get ready for the part. Also, he was a personal trainer before he got into acting, so he hopefully he’s continued the fight training since then. If so, Kitsch might not be as flat-footed a martial artist as we’re all basically assuming he is.

Throw in Frank Grillo, who’s already been cast and conveniently has several decades of boxing and jiujitsu experience, and The Raid’s credentials actually seem kinda passable for now. Could a new The Raid actually defy expectations and be not a sloppy mess? Things are starting to look that way. And hey, if this works out, maybe Kitsch can get another shot at a big Hollywood tentpole. Maybe even one that won’t trigger a wave of mass Disney firings.