Remakes and reboots have long been a part of Hollywood legacy, and if you could summarize the events of the past few years, the word that comes to mind is a simple one: ’80s. Not content with leaving fond memories and childhoods alone, Hollywood has remade a number of classic movies from the beautiful decade, to mixed review. It’s usually a polarized decision on many occasions, where money made from the new generation flies against the stubborn vitriol of the people who remember the original movies, but as long as there is money in it, the remake conveyor will continue to roll.
One such movie that has been rumored for such treatment is Escape From New York, the classic 1981 dystopian thriller from John Carpenter. Mooted for the reboot process for over a decade, it seems the wheels have finally started to turn on the long-awaited project. Where the decision will not be popular with the die-hard fans of the original — after all, it’s a huge cult classic — there may be a little forgiveness when they learn the details that have just been revealed. After all, its a reboot not a remake, which is slightly better in the eyes of the fans, and there’s a key factor; some major changes have been made to the plot.
The Wrap recently ran an article about the major changes that may occur should Escape From New York get the green light. The script is currently being penned by Luther creator Neil Cross — which bodes well for the tone of the movie itself — and the new details help shed some light on what we can expect. If Cross can recreate the dark undertones and grittiness of his BBC TV series and bring it to the big screen, it should make for an exciting cinematic treat. In fact, the changes of the movie are just that it might set the film apart from the original. Reboots, it seems, are always better in that respect. It means the original can continue to shine, and still be fondly remembered.
Which is why the new details will have some people smiling in excitement. The first major change? New York is no longer a maximum security prison. In a drastic change from the 1981 original, Manhattan will be beautiful, picturesque, and somewhat pleasant. It’ll contain “towering glass structures and a high undulating glass wall,” which should make for a breathtaking location. However, the city still contains a hidden menace; it’s monitored by drones that patrol the air, and the city itself is controlled by an A.I. named April, who controls the workings of New York. She also has a staff of technicians and researchers called “Seers” that monitor the day-to-day of the residents, which is where the darkness starts to emerge: Society is verging on chaos and falling apart, as one in every seventy-five humans is “now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.”
So far, so good, but the plot is about to throw a spanner in the works. A hurricane called Superstorm is making its way to New York, and because April is a mere A.I., her security is not ready for such a natural disaster. This leaves the citizens vulnerable and doomed by all accounts. Enter Snake Plissken, who has eleven hours (halved from the twenty-two in the original film) to complete his mission, which is to bring in the main villain alive. Fans of Escape From New York will remember The Duke of New York fondly, but he will not be featured here. Instead, the big bad will be Thomas Newton, a “charismatic” playboy heir to a wealthy organization, who also has a mysterious sinister side. Oh, and he carries a metal, spherical “fail-safe” device called “Fat Boy,” which looks and sounds suspicious by all accounts.
Other changes are simple and in keeping with the times. Robert Hauk will now be a woman, Roberta Hauk, who works as the CIA Deputy Executive Director. We will learn Snake Plissken’s real name, and the film will not start in New York, but another major U.S. city. Throw all those details together and you have an interesting movie, one that could stand beside Escape From New York as a worthy brother, and not trample on the original like so many remakes tend to do. After all, topping the original is a huge ask, so why bother trying?
With John Carpenter in an executive producer role, the casting of Plissken sure to set the internet on fire — initial rumors have Charlie Hunnam, Jon Bernthal, and Dan Stevens in line for the role, as revealed by Cinema Blend — and a core fanbase watching with a keen eye, the film is starting to make all the right decisions. Let’s hope they continue to do so, and make the most of the details above.
[Featured Image by AVCO Embassy Pictures]