After adding his name to the ever-growing list of talented directors wasting their gifts on bland adaptations of 1970s TV shows with The Equalizer and attempting something more mature to middling results in Southpaw, Antoine Fuqua seems to be in a remake groove. This year will see his take on The Magnificent Seven with his axiomatic leading man Denzel Washington, alongside Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio. (Of course, the original Magnificent Seven is also a remake, based off of Akira Kurosawa‘s legendary, unimpeachable Seven Samurai.) And he’s now looking to take on and revamp another famed property, namely Scarface, the Brian De Palma-directed original of which is also a remake of sorts, working off the schematics of Howard Hawks‘ classic Scarface. Can someone start taking a count for how many times I use the word “remake” in this article?
Deadline reports that Fuqua is in talks with Universal to helm the remake, which will relocate the dark story of criminal ambition from Miami to Los Angeles.Both Paul Attanasio and David Ayer wrote their own scripts for the remake, but Jonathan Herman‘s final screenplay will be the touchstone for the production. There’s no one set for the cast quite yet, but I would be very surprised if Washington didn’t show up in some way, but who knows? Even more likely is the chances of the film being a far grimmer and grueling affair than either De Palma’s take or Hawks’ original, as evidenced by the joyless vibes of The Equalizer.
Hawks’ original film is a near-mythical work, one of the first great crime movies of the 1930s, starring a furious yet charming Paul Muni in the titular lead role. I have nothing but good things to say about Hawks’ film. On the other hand, the 1983 version of Scarface is hemmed in by a terrible script that weighs down Al Pacino‘s rightly heralded lead performance and De Palma’s routinely exquisite, kinetic filmmaking. I’m similarly not the biggest fan of the original Magnificent Seven, and in both cases, Fuqua might very well make a better remake than the one that preceded his versions. His chances would be even better if every one of his films didn’t depict the world as a cold, cynical place with little worthwhile in all of its vast majesty, but I’m not counting on that.