When Criterion reissued a tricked out new edition of Stephen Frears' 1984 gangster flick "The Hit," we were taken aback by what a beautifully composed, totally brutal little thriller it was. A clear inspiration for "Sexy Beast," the film starred John Hurt and Tim Roth as hitmen hired by London gangsters to kidnap a rat (played by Terence Stamp) who has been hiding out in Spain, and bring him to Paris. That's pretty much all you need to know — it's pretty perfect. For some reason, though, both Frears, his screenwriter Peter Price, and producer Jeremy Thomas, feel that perfection isn't enough and are compelled to revisit "The Hit" in remake form Variety reports. Cue audible groan.
Thomas, who's been on something of a bad idea streak lately (he's overseeing the 3D conversion of Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor"), says the very British movie will have its setting shifted from Spain and Paris to Mexico and the United States. "The idea is to make it as an American movie about an American gangster, to tell the story against the backdrop of the land of cinema," Thomas told Variety. Um. Okay. We're not sure what the "the backdrop of the land of cinema" means, although that's a pretty good title for our unpublished memoirs.
Was "The Hit" enough of a financial success that Spears and company really have to return to the property? It's bleak and funny and visually arresting, but we can't imagine anyone rushing out to see it because it's a remake of a movie they barely remember in the first place. Frears is the latest in a string of directors who have felt the need to revisit their previous material. Hell, Ridley Scott is following his "Alien" redo "Prometheus" with a trip back to "Blade Runner" land. These filmmakers need to realize that nostalgia quickly leads to stagnation. Hopefully Frears, a totally underrated filmmaker in our estimation, can bring something fresh to the material.
We implore everyone to go rent or buy the Criterion issue of "The Hit" before this ill-advised remake sees the light of day. You won't be disappointed, but you will be shaken up.