REASONABLE REMAKES: Judgment Night

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Under The Gun is continuing our efforts to bring you more original and engaging content with REASONABLE REMAKES. Written by film-nerd Justin Proper, this column aims to highlight Hollywood’s forgotten gems and spark debate.

You see, we’ve grown tired of Hollywood rehashing ideas we’re old enough to remember. Why remake something the majority of the planet still remembers and loves deeply when there are tons of films that deserve a chance to be as great as modern technology and skill can make them? If you agree, this column is for you.

This weeks column was contributed by Boston Examiner Film Critic Ken Murray. (Follow him on Twitter)

I’m not the biggest fan of remakes or reboots, but that being said I understand the reasoning behind them. They tend to make money and for the most part, the target audience doesn’t even realize the movie is a remake in the first place (seriously I got many deer in headlights looks when I mentioned last year that Arthur was a remake). Kids today. So that being said since Hollywood is going to make them, coming up with ideas for remakes is pretty easy. How about this little gem?

Do you remember the 1993 film Judgment Night? If you are of a certain age range you do. It wasn’t great to be remembered by everyone, but it’s also one of those guilty pleasures you watched over and over again. For those not familiar with the film, it was about four friends who are heading to a boxing match in a big RV who take a wrong turn into the ghetto and witness a murder. The bad guys of course come chasing after them because like with every murder, there can’t be any witnesses. At the time the two biggest names in the film were Emilio Estevez (coming off the hit The Mighty Ducks) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (with previous strong performances in A Few Good Men and Boyz n the Hood). Nowadays the film would be sold on the names Denis Leary (Rescue Me) and Jeremy Piven (Entourage).

The film would make an easy transition into the 21st century. The story itself is pretty universal and would only need a little tweaking. Since boxing is dead until we get an actual match between Mayweather and Pacquiao, today’s remake would have them going to a UFC/MMA fight. They could still pile into an RV and even 20 years later, we still have ghettos. So the story is set, how about the casting?

Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Mike character would be a pretty easy fit for Damon Wayans Jr. His TV show Happy Endings seems to be a surprising hit and Damon can carry humor and drama pretty well which would be something Mike would need.

Stephen Dorff played Emilio’s younger brother and was 20 years old at the time. The best thing about the Footloose remake was Miles Teller. Teller kinda has that offbeat look about him that I think would pull off the John Wyatt character. He’s already been in one remake so let’s throw him in this.

Denis Leary played the bad guy Fallon in the film. He’s tall, lanky, you aren’t quite sure if he’s right in the head or a genius and in a perfect world my love of Michael Fassbender would have him as the ideal Fallon, but Fassbender’s too good for this role. Someone like Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki could use a good change in character. His TV persona is the good guy Sam although he did have a dark storyline for a while where he went around just mauling demons and what not. I’d love to see Padalecki play an outright bad guy with psychotic tendencies. Plus the ladies like him and he has a built in fan base.

Jeremy Piven’s Ray foretold the future and we never realized it. He thought very highly of himself and tried to buy his way out of a tough situation (cough Ari Gold cough cough). But just like every Piven character, he’s funny, kinda charming in that wormy way and without him, the show/film just isn’t the same. The guy right now I like a lot the more I see of him is Tyler Labine. I loved him in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and he was really good in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Both films show he can pull off the humor, but Apes also showed his range as an actor. He’s not the full on rounded actor that Piven is yet, but a role like this could showcase his talents.

At the time of Judgment Night, Emilio Estevez was a bona fide movie star. He was in a slew of now classic 80’s flicks and he was the major draw to this film. That being said, a remake would need a bona fide movie star. Ryan Gosling would be the perfect Frank Wyatt. If you make the new film edgier and slightly more dark, Gosling would completely nail the part. If you’ve seen Drive (and if you haven’t, you need to) you know what Gosling is capable of. Estevez had that smile that told you things would be ok and Gosling’s smile is even brighter. Gosling is probably the best young actor going today and Drive proves he’s can handle himself with the action sequences. I’ve heard from a source that Gosling actually liked the original movie and who wouldn’t want to see him behind the wheel again?

The most difficult problem you’d have with a Judgment Night remake would be the soundtrack. The original film’s soundtrack was groundbreaking. 1993 was long before bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit so we weren’t quite used to a rap/rock hybrid. The film had songs that to this day would still sound fresh and new. Helmet & House of Pain’s Just Another Victim still gets played on my iPod. You had songs by Cypress Hill with Pearl Jam, Biohazard and Onyx, Slayer and Ice-T and others. Unless you get a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the original will win the battle over best music.

As far as directors are concerned, I’d love to see Craig Brewer handle it if he went more with his Hustle & Flow or Black Snake Moan style of filmmaking. He’s also fantastic with music so maybe the soundtrack wouldn’t be an issue. Joe Carnahan would also be a good choice. I’m a big fan of his Narc and Smokin’ Aces and his latest flick The Grey is quite good too. Either one could definitely pull off an urban, action flick.

I’d actually watch this remake even though I liked the original too. If you could land Gosling, you’d have an instant audience. Either director would make the movie much more grittier for today’s cynical youth and the supporting cast would carry its own. So what do you think? Yes, no, what’s Judgment Night?

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  • Denis Leary on this movie’s plot summary “Emilio Estevez gets paid 4 million dollars.  The rest of us get paid shit…”

  • That’s awesome. Leary and Piven would totally be the star names of it today

  • Emma

    This would be brilliant!