It was reported yesterday on Slashfilm, from an article on Deadline, that the proposed Highlander remake has found a new director. Fast Five’s Justin Lin HAD been scheduled to direct, but as he pressed on with another Fast and Furious movie, he dropped out as the Highlander helmer. The new name in the frame is Spaniard Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, director of 28 weeks later, and forthcoming Clive Owen vehicle Intruders. He will apparently direct from a script by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. The choice of replacing Lin with another up and coming director with a solid track record so far is encouraging, and the fact that Summit Entertainment have gone ahead and named a new director suggests that Highlander may begin progressing. I guess the big question, then, is do we need a Highlander reboot?
The original 1986 Highlander is one of those genre movies that has a huge cult following, and is remembered fondly, but on rewatch actually begins to look hideously dated. It tells the story of a medieval Scottish swordsman who discovers he is a member of a rare race of immortals, who can only be killed by a beheading. These immortals battle through time against each other for many centuries, watching civilisation evolve around them. The effects look dated, the action is slow and clumsy, and the story, whilst it has potential, is explored in the most tedious of ways.
Highlander did however make a star, albeit briefly, of Christopher Lambert. You decide if this is a positive or not. It also spawned several movie follow-ups and a TV show. Clearly, the concept and the world created endured with its fans, and though none of these endeavours proved particularly successful, that interest still exists in the franchise suggests that there are plenty who still hold the original movie, the best of all its incarnations, in high esteem.
A Highlander remake, much like the proposed Logan’s Run remake, is to me well worth the time and effort. Both had a great high concept, but were conceived in the campest of ways. Fast paced, wonderfully choreographed sword fights set around modern-day cities could really capture the imagination of a new audience, and with a bit of work the storyline could be really quite compelling. Following the protagonist Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod as he lives through our history, era by era, war by war, could be genuinely fascinating. An awesome action movie intercut with an emotionally told history lesson could truly make for a great film.
Is this the way it will turn out though? Probably not. When you look at the screenwriters, Marcum and Holloway, and see their previous screenplays were Iron Man and Punisher: War Zone, you can see the direction the project is headed. A medium budget, plasticine action movie, with casual humour rather than insightful drama looks on the cards. It seems most likely that it will be a knocked out summer earner rather than an attempt at genuine art. This seems to be the case all too often with remakes, with the focus on using a recognisable brand name to draw on a reasonable profit rather than reinvigorating a wasted concept.
Hopefully, it’ll turn out that I’m wrong, and we’ll see something a bit more interesting. This summer we saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes using a recognised source to tell a genuinely interesting human/ape drama story. If Highlander can match this effort, then it’ll be certainly worth a watch.
Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at