While we already know (and have seen photo evidence of) the life action movie version of Ghost and the Shell, another Cyberpunk anime pillar seems to live perpetually in the “Umm, we’d like to make it at some point” stage. That one is 1988’s Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo’s film adaptation of his own manga series, which has been largely untouched by the anime or film medium since its release, with nary a OVA sequel or remake. But Warner Bros. wants to remake it, and there was even talk that Christopher Nolan would direct and oversee a trilogy of films based on Otomo’s work. Now a new rumor suggests Justin Lin could be the one to take on the psionic teenage love story.
The suggestion of Lin being asked by Warners to helm the project comes from Jeff Sneider on the Meet the Movie Press program. It should be noted that there is no corroboration of this story, and it’s worth noting (as Slashfilm did) that Sneider chose to release this information on a YouTube show and not via a trade publication or other print medium. It doesn’t mean that it’s incorrect, just that it’s an unsubstantiated “scoop.”
That being said, we think Lin is an excellent choice for the movie. He’s proved in his previous movies that he’s adept at all the aspects that make Akira what it is: character studies of young people (Better Luck Tomorrow); action-packed thrillers (Fast & Furious films 3-6); and straight-up science fiction (Star Trek Beyond… yes, we have yet to see that one, but we’re optimistic). About a year ago, I wrote about the four things an Akira movie would need in order to be successful and focus on character and striking the right were two big ones.
Akira is a movie ostensibly about the end of the world through the eyes of young people, and specifically a pair of best friend/rivals/pseudo-brothers. The aforementioned Fast & Furious movies are almost cloyingly focused on the idea of friends as family, but they manage to make each member of that crew important in some way or another. Akira also has an energy consistent with teenagers and their ever-changing hormonal imbalances, and while the original anime isn’t exactly frenetic, it does have a pace that eventually borders on manic, which again is an arena at which Lin excels.
The real problem facing an Akira live-action film, regardless of who directs it, is that it’s distinctly Japanese in every single aspect; it’s a post-apocalyptic world and Japan is to date the only country which actually has suffered a nuclear strike. The movie feeds on that, and Neo-Tokyo is a setting that needs to remain intact for the film to work. Ergo, a Scarlett Johansson-like casting situation would be even more unfortunate than it is with Ghost in the Shell. Lin is Taiwanese and not Japanese, but it seems likely that Warner Bros would want to put the film in the hands of an Asian director with a proven track record of franchise work.
Whatever the outcome—and if the Lin rumor ends up not being true at all, I wouldn’t be surprised—the prospect of an Akira live action film will always be a sweet one for studios eager to bring a known but not overplayed sci-fi commodity into the fold. But as it’s already close to 30 years since the original movie came out, it doesn’t look like it’s getting any easier.
For more about Akira and Ghost in the Shell, I wrote about the pair of them right here. Let me know your thoughts on Justin Lin tackling the project in the comments below!
We were real excited about Nolan possibly directing at one point…
Featured Image: Toho Studios