To: Big Willie and The Beard
Hey guys! How’s it going? I hear you’re both doing pretty well these days– Will, you’re coming up in the cult of Scientology (Aren’t you? Or are you? You sure can’t make up your mind about that one!), and Steve, you’re coming off of an surprisingly unremarkable summer thanks to your inability to make a satisfying Indiana Jones movie. I also heard an interesting bit of news a few weeks ago, followed by more pieces of news in line with the first. I hear you’re going to remake Oldboy!. That’s…that’s…well, hell, I’m not going to waste any time.
This is a terrible idea.
Look, I get it. I do. I get why remaking Oldboy might seem appealing to both of you. Steve, you’ve made many an enduring classic, and you are still considered a master of your craft years past your prime. But when you were making those classics, your peers were making their own classics, films that were edgier and darker and grittier and pushed the envelope in a way that even a great film like Jaws just doesn’t.
And here you are, just over 3 decades past the fact. This is your, I don’t know, your delayed midlife crisis, shall we say. You’re not satisfied that you were Mr. Clean back in the 70’s as people like Scorcese stretched the boundaries of subversive cinema. And you know what? That’s okay. It really is.
Will, you’re in a similar situation. You’re in your “shed my nice guy image” phase. You’ve been trying to be taken seriously as both a dramatic actor and as a badass for years now. You want to be a macho man. You want to be a bad boy. (Admittedly, you were a bad boy. Twice.)
So maybe it’s not about being a tough guy really, but if not I can damn sure guarantee it’s about one of these. I’m going to tell you the same thing that I just told Steve– it’s really alright. I totally understand.
The unfortunate fact is that remaking Park Chan-wook’s isn’t going to help either of you. I know it worked for Scorcese two years ago, but trust me when I say it won’t work for you. Marty didn’t totally declaw the story; if anything he made it more savage and harsh. And that’s the key. You’re remaking one of the most viciously nihilistic, bleak, and cruel movies of the past decade, and you, Steve, you are NOT Scorcese. The only direction an Oldboy remake can go in your hands is fluffy. Sorry, Steve. I love you to death, but you don’t have it in you to either retain Oldboy’s edge or improve on it. It is also not a film that demands improvement.
Of course, Will claims that you guys are just re-adapting the manga that Park’s film was itself an adaptation of. Come on. Remaking Oldboy is a terrible idea in the first place, but this reasoning is completely transparent to the point of being insulting. Anyone with half a brain could see through this story. There’s no appreciable reason to re-adapt the manga for an American audience, whereas Park adapting the story in the first place made an amount of sense. Park also managed to make the story uniquely his, but that’s neither here nor there. We all know you would never consider adapting this extremely vanilla manga if not for the massive success the film adaptation enjoyed five years ago. And if you try to convince me that no one involved in this project has seen Oldboy, I’ll know you’re lying to me.
I don’t want this to turn nasty. Look, we both know that you, as lovers of cinema, have probably seen Oldboy a couple of times at least. You’re not fooling anyone when you claim the manga as your source material.
I like the idea of you two working together, but just not on this kind of project. Come up with something original and new. Please. If Rod Lurie is cognizant that Hollywood is running out of new and old ideas, surely you are too. Stop the cycle of remakes that so many mainstream filmmakers have succumbed to these days, and give us the kind of imagination you used to.
If not, I’m going to tell Park to remake Jaws and claim he’s basing it on the original novel.