It isn’t widely known to American audiences, but John Mackenzie‘s 1979 gangster drama The Long Good Friday is recognized as a classic of British film — which is precisely why it may perturb its fans to learn a remake is in the works.
A remake to be written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Anderson’s work has its fans, of course — and there’s something to be said for acts of stylized violence such as Alien vs. Predator and Resident Evil — but given that his films boast an average Tomatometer rating of 23 percent, it’s fair to say those fans are outnumbered by unimpressed critics such as the Village Voice’s Gary Dauphin, who accused Anderson of “a cheerful disregard for characterization and visual texture” in his review for 1998’s Soldier. (And that’s actually one of the kinder quotes we found.)
This all helps to explain why Anderson took it cheerfully in stride when Empire came calling this week, wanting to know why he felt it necessary to remake such a beloved film. After joking that he was doing it “to win Oscars,” he called The Long Good Friday one of his favorite films — then boasted that not even Martin Scorsese had been able to obtain approval from the film’s rights holders for a remake. How did Anderson succeed where Scorsese failed? According to the director, he “had a take on it that they really liked, and I think they knew that I would respect the original movie enough to keep the essence of the original film.”
That “take” involves moving the action from London to Miami, and abandoning the IRA subplot. From the article:
“It’s not the IRA in ours, but it is another terrorist organisation, and we’re doing it in Miami, so we’re re-imagining it for America. Otherwise the story beats and characters will pretty much play out.
It will have the same human cortège scene at the start; the spitting in the face; he’s been away somewhere, but it won’t have been to New York…I think the script [of the original film], Barrie Keeffe‘s original screenplay, is so good. And the story is a great story with a great twist in it. And it’s pretty remarkable that your lead character is a gangster and you really root for him.
I think it’s a great movie for a remake, because outside of the UK it’s virtually unknown and it was very much a movie of its time. It really captured that London of that time in the same way we’re hopefully going to capture Miami of right now.”
As Empire points out, Anderson hasn’t said anything to curb fans’ suspicions about the remake — but then again, he was the guy who won the remake rights, so maybe it’ll all turn out for the best in the end. To read more of Anderson’s interview, click on the link below!