Multi-hyphenate writer-director-producer-actor Leigh Whannell, who just signed on to reinvent The Invisible Man for Blumhouse, has gotten the assignment to recreate a more recent icon of cinema: Snake Plissken. Assuming, of course, that a character by that name remains once he has written the screenplay for an Escape From New York remake. You’d think that might be a given, but per The Hollywood Reporter, one of Whannell’s mandates is “to avoid the bloated tentpole remake path that afflicted the reboots of other 1980s-era movies such as Robocop and Total Recall.”
This makes sense: from his origins as one of the co-creators of Saw to his recent forays into directing with Insidious: Chapter 3 and Upgrade, Whannell has been a creative force able to milk the most out of lower budgets, just as John Carpenter was and is. The original post-apocalyptic Escape From New York was made for $6 million in 1980. To the extent that we can judge Whannell as a director based on three features, he excels at implying larger worlds — like the Further in his two Insidious films, and a future dystopia in Upgrade — from simple-yet-distinctive sets.
Antihero Snake Plissken became one of three iconic characters Kurt Russell would play for Carpenter, along with The Thing‘s R.J. Macready and Big Trouble in Little China‘s Jack Burton. We’ve already seen a “premake” of The Thing with Mary Elizabeth Winstead as new protagonist Kate Lloyd, and there’s talk of a Big Trouble in Little China sequel with Dwayne Johnson as not-Jack Burton, so that pattern might suggest a character not named Snake will venture into a walled-off future New York this time. One thing we do know is that Whannell generally pulls no punches, whether he’s scaring us with Darth Maul demons or kicking butt in Upgrade. And that’s the kind of scribe an antihero needs.
As to whether he’ll direct, that’s apparently still a possibility bit not part of the deal yet.
Image: AVCO Embassy Pictures