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James Wan talks about failed MacGyver reboot

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MacGyver was a true show of the 80’s, the bad guys were bad and the good guys were good; it also had big 80’s hair – so many perms and mullets. Richard Dean Anderson starred as the titular gun-eschewing Angus MacGyver, a scientist, secret agent and former bomb disposal technician, that traveled the country-side helping those in need by means of unique engineering solutions using common household items and his trusty Swiss Army knife.

It ran for 7 seasons between 1985 and 1992 and was, in fact, so popular that “MacGyver” officially became a verb used to describe coming up with novel solutions for technical problems like he did in the show. It also lead to Swiss Army knife sales becoming the main driver of the Swiss economy, outperforming cheese, watches, chocolate and banking combined. That last bit might not be true, but if you saw how many kids carried around those knives you’d be inclined believe it.


And finally getting to the point, it was also up for reboot (like so many others) with Furious 7 director James Wan linked to the project. New Line Cinema had announced the movie reboot way back in 2009 with a script by Bangkok Dangerous scribe Jason Richman, and Wan joined the project in 2012. Out doing press rounds for the upcoming Fast & Furious sequel he was asked (via Coming Soon) if he was still involved with the reboot:

I love ‘MacGyver’. I do! What kind of sucked was, and not fully sucked, I had to give ‘MacGyver’ up to pursue ‘Furious 7’. So that was what I had to give up. I [think] New Line, that I was going to do it with at the time, no longer has the rights to it. So yeah, I don’t know where it is at this point. Yeah, I love the concept behind ‘MacGyver’, and I love the direction that we were going with it.

His enthusiasm for it was pretty obvious when he gave a fairly lengthy run down of what they had planned:

My initial concept was I wanted to do a young college MacGyver who went to Boston, one of the great universities, who’s really brilliant, right? He’s so smart he could never feel like he fit into a world that is an establishment. So he’s always a bit of an outsider. He’s very crafty, he’s very smart, all kinds of science and mathematics and engineering.

I wanted to put my MacGyver story around something like a ‘North by Northwest’: He gets blamed for something that he had designed, something really big that’s something everyone wanted, and now someone has weaponized it and everyone’s coming after him. He’s running for his life and he’s trying to clear his name, not quite unlike the structure of ‘Enemy of the State’. So imagine ‘Enemy of the State’ if Will Smith[‘s character] had the brains of MacGyver.

That sounds… terrible. Excuse me while I gouge my eyes out with my Swiss Army knife that’s still in really good condition and is a testament to Swiss craftsmanship, unlike that idea.

I’ll console myself with the news that MacGyver creator Lee Zlotoff has teamed with the National Academy of Engineering to launch a competition to crowdsource ideas for a scripted TV series starring a female engineer character called The Next MacGyver. That sounds far more interesting.


Last Updated: March 25, 2015

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