In the Escape From New York reboot, Tom Hardy and Jason Statham both nearly played Snake Plissken.

In the Escape From New York reboot, Tom Hardy and Jason Statham both nearly played Snake Plissken.

We came so close to getting real stars in an Escape from New York reboot. At their best, a reboot of a much-beloved film property is a dicey proposition. Aside from enraging die-hard fans of the original, the end result is, more often than not, less than stellar.

Director John Carpenter has already had a handful of his films reworked, rehashed, and prequeled in various ways—Halloween, The Thing (which, granted, was itself a remake), The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13—and his 1981 sci-fi classic Escape From New York seemed next up on the chopping block. Most of us agreed this was a terrible idea, but one that, unfortunately, appeared inevitable.

In Escape From New York, Kurt Russell plays one of the ultimate cinematic badasses, Snake Plissken. And when talking of rebooting Escape From New York, casting the eye-patch-wearing outlaw had to be the first order of business.

Jeremy Renner (The Avenger) and Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) were both rumored to be up for the role in a previous Escape From New York incarnation, but a 2013 report from the New York Daily News said that a couple of Brits, Jason Statham (The Expendables) and Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), would battle for the part.

Their source says, “Studio Canal wants to make sure they get one of the two men before the summer.”

I’m 100% against tampering with Escape From New York, and when I rule the world, things like this will warrant a public flogging. But there’s nothing I can do about this current situation, so let’s attempt to talk about it as if it doesn’t make us cringe.

At least in this instance they’re talking about casting actors who potentially fit the role. Jason Statham is a one-trick pony as far as acting goes, but his gruff, tough-guy aesthetic and low-budget action heroics line up fairly well with the world of Plissken in an Escape From New York reboot.

A man of action more than a character who wants to sit down and talk things out, you can imagine Jason Statham fighting his way through the gang-infested streets of a Manhattan that has been converted into a futuristic prison. Granted, this updated Escape From New York‘s Plissken would have to have a much different haircut. The idea of Statham wearing a wig that mimics Russell’s flowing locks is just too comical.

Tom Hardy starring in Escape From New York well, he is the much better actor of these two and definitely has more range as a performer. He has the ability to infuse tough characters with depth, personality, and feeling, as we’d seen in films like Bronson and Layer Cake.

But do we need Snake Plissken to have emotions, or do we just want him to kick ass? The original incarnation may be a tough-guy with a heart of gold, but he’s certainly not the touchy-feely type.

Lucky for us, Hardy has a handle on the physical side of things as well, with roles like The Dark Knight Rises‘ Bane. He’s also shown he’s not afraid to tackle iconic roles made famous by other actors, such as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road. An Escape From New York casting wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.

I do like both actors, and they would each bring different facets to Escape From New York. When choosing between the lesser of two evils, which would you rather see tarnish the legacy of Snake Plissken?

 

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