Before Jamie Foxx got to kill white folk and get paid for it, it was actually Will Smith that was up for the title role in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Because clearly Tarantino had forgotten that the last time Smith donned a Stetson and a six-shooter, we ended up with the wild, wild trainwreck, Wild Wild West.
But it seems that Smith is really intent on being a cowboy again (sort of), as he’s signed on to lead a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s classic Oscar nominated western, The Wild Bunch. Except it ain’t going to be about cowboys.
The Wrap is reporting that Smith is looking to not only star in but also co-produce the remake with Jerry Weintraub (who also produced the Karate Kid remake starring Smith’s son Jaden) which will look to throw a modern, contemporary spin on the classic tale. Peckinpah’s 1969 original followed a group of aging outlaws, struggling to get to grips with the new “modern” world of 1913, while planning a huge heist on the Texas-Mexico border. But according to The Wrap’s sources, this new film will be diverging quite drastically from that story:
A modern remake involving cartels south of the border, the “Wild Bunch” reboot is expected to follow a disgraced D.E.A. agent who assembles a team to go after a Mexican drug lord and his fortune.
In case you may not have noticed, that sounds like a totally different movie! Which immediately begs the question of why use the Wild Bunch name at all? All it will do is invoke comparisons, and do you really want the added pressure of having your movie matched against what the AFI considers the sixth greatest Western of all time?
Secondly, Peckinpah’s film is famous for containing (what was considered at the time) rather graphic violence, shown in excruciating detail through the director’s revolutionary use of quick-cut editing and slow-motion shots. With Smith keeping his career strictly PG-13 for a while now, you’d have to think that this remake will probably be toned down quite a bit meet his family-friendly sensibilities as well.
There’s currently no director or writer attached, but whichever scribe gets hired will be working off a draft that was initially started by Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential, Mystic River). At the time, the project was perhaps being considered as a directing vehicle for Tony Scott, before he passed away last year. Now the rumour mill is apparently attaching writer-director David Ayer (End of Watch, Training Day) to the remake.
I like Smith as an actor, and Ayer would be a superb choice for a director (and possibly even writer), but if this turns out to be some kind of nerfed, teen friendly summer popcorn movie, there will be much fanboy gnashing of teeth. Maybe even some slow-motion violence.
Last Updated: May 16, 2013