We underestimated how bad of an idea this was going to be.
A remake of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York has been rumored for some time now, but the chatter has resulted in little more than a near decade-long game of musical chairs when it came to the studio, director, and possible star attached. The current incarnation sits at 20th Century Fox where Neal Cross (Luther) has recently turned in a script that appeals to the studio’s interest in repeating the success they’ve found with the new Planet of the Apes franchise, and The Wrap has revealed some of the plot points.
We’ve known for a few years that interested parties were leaning towards making a prequel instead of a straight reboot, and that has now been confirmed. As they did with Rise, Fox wants to reintroduce the character via a prequel before moving into actual reboot territory. Details from the script are below, but first let’s take a quick look at what makes Carpenter’s film so damn good.
Kurt Russell’s turn as Snake Plissken is obviously a huge part of the film’s success, but the character himself is also one of the screen’s great anti-heroes. Carpenter’s script (co-written with Nick Castle) introduces Plissken as a man with a questionable past. We know he’s gone from decorated war hero to criminal mercenary, but the details are lost to the haze of time and legend. The mystery of his past and his flexible morals add to the character’s mystique every bit as much as the eye patch and the constant refrain of “I thought you were dead,” and all of it works to enhance his begrudgingly heroic journey.
We don’t need to have that mystery explained. It would be an idiotic and unnecessary decision every bit as ill-fated as giving someone like Michael Myers a fleshed-out backstory. I mean, can you even imagine?
So of course that’s just what we look to be getting from Fox’s planned prequel.
Per The Wrap, the film will take place before New York City has been turned into a maximum security prison. This alone is moronic as it negates the title and core premise of the original film. Here the city is a towering achievement overseen by an A.I. entity – “an ethnically ambiguous, cheery young woman called April” – but while “she” inevitably malfunctions Plissken’s target is an even bigger threat. Who needs the Duke of New York when you can have “the lean, intensely charismatic Thomas Newton, the playboy heir to an agrochemical and biotech corporation.”
Did I mention that there’s a hurricane approaching the city?
They list a few other details – Plissken has a first name! Lee Van Cleef’s Hauk is now a woman! – and while they don’t mention it you know the film will feature a two-eyed Plissken who loses one by the end credits. I’d say it all sounds more like a generic direct-to-DVD action movie than one worthy of Snake Plissken, but Carpenter’s own Escape from L.A. is an uninspired garbage sequel so maybe the prequel will be a step up? I kid. It’s more likely that the movie will instead sit in development hell for another eight or nine years. Now let’s all go watch Escape from New York.