A few weeks ago reports came down the pike that SUICIDE SQUAD director David Ayer was set to write and direct a remake of THE DIRTY DOZEN. The original was a WWII actioner starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Jim Brown. The 1967 flick was both a commercial and critical success and fifty-three years later, is considered one of the best WWII films of all time. While Ayer is not averse to WWII – his 2014 film FURY starring Brad Pitt is criminally underrated – the END OF WATCH director will not be returning to the second World War for the upcoming remake.
In a recent interview for his upcoming Fox show Deputy, the director stated setting THE DIRTY DOZEN in a modern context provides more opportunities:
“I think it’s more open and exciting. For me, World War II is the Holy War. To do a more fun, comedic version of that war, I don’t think I could pull that off. But absolutely, I can do that present day, and have that fun and anarchy and wildness, and have modern characters with incredible diversity and real voices.”
Personally this makes a lot of sense. If you’re going to remake a film, especially a classic, it’s important to bring something fresh to the table. While beat for beat remakes can work (the Coen brothers’ TRUE GRIT comes to mind) more often they are boring affairs like 1998’s PSYCHO. Setting THE DIRTY DOZEN in the 21st century just opens more doors in terms of diverse casting. I could definitely see John David Washington or Gina Carano fitting into this film nicely.
While David Ayer‘s THE DIRTY DOZEN may be a remake, the director doesn’t seem to think his film will be a one-shot. In that same interview, Ayer discussed the possibility of the flick being the start of a franchise:
“I think it’s just an opportunity for a great ensemble action franchise. I’ll have a really solid lead character, and I see it in the vein of the Mission: Impossible movies, or the Fast and Furious franchise, for which I wrote the first one. It’s like anything, you build an amazing family of characters, and then you watch them bounce off of each other and drive each other crazy.”
Chemistry is going to be key when casting THE DIRTY DOZEN. One of the things that works so well about the original is that there’s such great chemistry between the principal actors. If that element isn’t there, it doesn’t matter how many action set-pieces you have, the film isn’t going to work. As Ayer remarked, he’s certainly adept at creating that chemistry with THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. The family dynamic in those films anchors the franchise. Here’s hoping he can recreate the magic with THE DIRTY DOZEN.