Kevin: It was a big week in the news for Tough Guy Digest favs Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Will Smith, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a number of potential projects announced which could easily make our future Most Anticipated List. However, not all the news was good, so let’s start by highlighting the folks who are looking up this week.
With “Hacksaw Ridge” coming off Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, the Mel Gibson comeback train keeps chugging along with the announcement that Mel is being eyed to join John Lithgow as the fathers of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in “Daddy’s Home 2.” I remember absolutely nothing from the original other than I found it consistently amusing; any comedy with Ferrell and Wahlberg doesn’t have to do much heavy lifting to get laughs, and with Gibson and Lithgow joining them I’m sure this will be everyone’s backup choice for a Christmas movie for older family members who “just don’t care for that Star Wars crap.”
More exciting for action fans though is the news that Mel and his “Hacksaw Ridge” actor Vince Vaughn are re-teaming in front of the camera to play cops turned criminals in “Dragged Across Concrete.” If that title alone wasn’t enough to get you excited, it’s directed by S. Craig Zahler, who previously directed the criminally underseen “Bone Tomahawk.” The Kurt Russell cannibal western was like the love child of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino, and if either of them had released the same movie under their name it would have been hailed as a genre classic and racked up a number of Oscar nominations, especially for Richard Jenkins as Best Supporting Actor.
Like “Green Room” director Jeremy Saulnier, Zahler appears to be the kind of writer/director who likes bringing A-list filmmaking to B-movie genres, so this will be one to look out for.
CJ: I liked “Daddy’s Home” and I hope this sequel will be good. I’m very intrigued at the pairing of Mel and Lithgow and think it will lead to some good possibilities. I’m also glad to see that Mel is finally coming back into the business, as the work he does is generally better than most of the “stars” we have today. Goodness, I’m already imagining a vastly superior “Fast and Furious” movie with Mel instead of Vin. A bearded Mel could totally fight The Rock. Not win, but at least he wouldn’t crumble into a heap the way Vin should in real life. Either way, glad Mel has worked hard to move past his recent troubles and we are starting to see some good work out of it. Also, remember when the beloved and hilarious Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a woman? Apparently Zach Galifianakis didn’t.
Kevin: The news that director Antoine Fuqua is exiting the “Scarface” remake is probably a blow (get it, like cocaine?) for those who worship the Al Pacino version (so the entire rap community I guess), as Fuqua was probably the modern director best-suited to recreate the excesses of De Palma’s original. With Diego Luna now being cast in the lead, they might as well just add Danny Trejo and send this straight to VOD where it belongs.
What has me excited about this news is the reason Fuqua is dropping out: to spend more time on the sequel to “The Equalizer,” his 2014 Denzel Washington-starring version of the 1980s TV show. In a world of watered-down PG-13 action, Fuqua’s film was hilariously bloody and gruesome, with Denzel’s character demonstrating what would have happened had Kevin McCallister from “Home Alone” grown up to be a government-sanctioned serial killer, complete with a climax set in a booby-trapped hardware store (except instead of getting hit in the face with paint cans and slipping on oil, the bad guys in “The Equalizer” were strangled with barb wire and had power drills shoved into their brains).
I can’t wait, although I know CJ is not a fan of the first, and in fact it’s the biggest disagreement he and I have ever had outside of the 2016 election (CJ obviously was ride-or-die for Mike Huckabee all the way and still hasn’t been able to leave the house since he dropped out).
CJ: God I hated “The Equalizer” so much I almost walked out of it. I’ll give it credit though, some of those kills were fantastic, but it’s definitely one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. On the plus side, the sequel can’t be worse, so I’m already giving this a Rotten Tomatoes score of 65. My other question: is Diego Luna now gonna be the next thing that we are forced to love? I find him virtually unmemorable in everything he’s in. Remember him in “Rogue One”? Kinda? How about “Elysium”? Sorta? What about “Y Tu Mama Tambien”? Yeah … but not because of him.
(Warning: The following section also contains spoilers for “Split”)
Kevin: Riding high off the success of “Split” and with the kind of juice he hasn’t had in a while, M. Night Shyamalan is again talking up a sequel to “Unbreakable” that would continue the story of super-powered blue-collar everyman David Dunn (Bruce Willis). Even those of us who have not exactly been clamoring for a follow-up, due to the fact that the original ended on such an abrupt downer note, have to admit that the possibility is a lot more intriguing having seen “Split,” which ends with a final shot of Willis’ David Dunn character watching a news report and departing to presumably do battle with James McAvoy’s powerful alter ego “The Horde.”
“Holy shit,” you realize at that moment, “we’ve just been watching a de facto sequel to ‘Unbreakable’ the whole time!” Which means there is now a shared Shyamalan Cinematic Universe that includes Willis, McAvoy, and Samuel L. Jackson’s villain Mr. Glass from the original. Could the sequel involve Willis having to go up against a Philadelphia-based Legion of Doom composed of other super villains? Or will this just be a project that Shyamalan hints about for years but never follows through on? Either way, even with just 10 seconds of screen time, this is still the best movie Willis has been involved with in years, as both times I’ve seen it his appearance has brought cheers from the audience.
CJ: Yes! Now this I am very much looking forward to, whatever it turns out to be. I love “The Sixth Sense,” “Signs,” and “Unbreakable.” I hear a lot of people speak ill of the last two, but I’m fully convinced it’s either: a) anti-Mel or Bruce nonsense, or b) the fact that saying M. Night sucks is low-hanging fruit. I thought the “twist” in “Split” was kind of forced but I wasn’t rolling my eyes or anything. And really, I don’t care because I was definitely pumped at Bruce’s cameo at the end. When I saw it in the theater a lot of people were very excited to see him pop up as well, and clearly this shared universe will be pretty sweet. I bet he could even work “Signs” into it. How great would it be to have Bruce fighting The Horde and out runs Merrill with his trusty bat in hand. Why does he still have the bat you may ask? Clearly after the invasion he lived off his fame of being the one guy to beat the shit out of an alien despite clearly never having held a bat before.
Kevin: I still like the implication that Mel’s dead wife was communicating beyond the grave that he should tell his brother to pick up the big bat in the living room and beat the alien with it, which I would think would be an obvious option even without divine intervention.
Kevin: Not so good was the news that the third “Bad Boys” is being delayed to 2018, but let’s face it, the fact that we have a third “Bad Boys” at all to look forward to is still pretty amazing considering the last one came out three presidents ago. I’d be a lot more hyped if Michael Bay was returning, as I consider “Bad Boys 2” to be both his masterpiece and the best 80’s action movie that somehow got put in a box and finally released in 2003. I doubt anyone will ever be allowed to make a $150-million, foul-mouthed, gratuitously violent 2.5-hour action movie again, but Joe Carnahan (“A-Team,” “The Grey”) is at least no stranger to macho men-of-action movies. The key will be the rating; if this goes out with a PG-13 I may have to boycott it on general principle.
CJ: I hate that this will be made without Sir Michael, but hopefully that’s because he’s already hard at work at “Transformers 6” – which I just realize he probably privately refers to as “Transformers Six … ty-nine!” I think this doesn’t reflect well on how Big Willie’s career has been going lately. Can you imagine him agreeing to “Bad Boys 3” 10 years ago? Me neither. I guess after “After Earth,” the successful yet awful “Suicide Squad,” and whatever the shit that weird Christmas movie about feelings was, Will probably needed to reach back and see if he still had his fastball. More importantly, what is Martin Lawrence gonna look like? He’s still alive, right?
On the plus side, I love “A-Team” and “The Grey.” I’m serious, “A-Team” is one of the best and most fun action movies of the last 10 years. If any of our readers gets the chance, rent it and turn your brain off. It also is the one time Sharlto Copely isn’t shit in a movie. Also, speaking of Copely, “District 9” is still the stupidest pile of shit ever made. That movie can die in a fire, and Neill Blomkamp is to directing what George Clooney is to acting.
Kevin: I didn’t like it as much as you but I did find it surprisingly good; I liked the team chemistry, Patrick Wilson and the assassin were fun villains, and Copely did deliver the biggest laugh in the movie when B.A. wakes up in the tank as it is plunging to earth: “Why are we falling?” “The plane exploded.” “When?” “Recently.”
Kevin: Finally we have the trailer for the new Arnold film, and it’s not a great sign that this is coming out in April and I’d not even heard about it until this week. Following his reign as California governor, Arnold began his return to movies strong with the fun action romp “The Last Stand,” but it’s been mainly downhill since. Let’s take a look at the trailer for his newest, “Aftermath,” and see if this is a return to form:
“This April, Arnold Schwarzenegger is out for revenge, and he won’t stop until he gets … an apology!” I think we all know where this is leading: Arnold tracks down the world’s most absent-minded air traffic controller, confronts him, and then … forgives him in a tear-jerking finale. Or maybe declares war on all air traffic controllers, but I doubt we’ll be that lucky.
Look I get it, Arnold’s not being asked to headline big studio bloodbaths anymore, but he can still find low-budget movies like “Blood Father,” which gave Mel Gibson a great role and let him occasionally kill some people (although not enough for my taste). Point being, the clock is ticking Arnold, so adjust to the new reality and realize that there are a lot of quality genre movies being made for the VOD market and get in on that.
Back to the trailer, why was Arnold at the crash site collecting his family’s dead bodies? Is that a normal thing or does the airline charge you extra if they have to bring them to you?
CJ: I get the feeling Arnie is on a kick to get some redemption in the acting world. But why? That’s not why we like him. We want our Arnold to be a killing machine. Even though he’s older, he could still pull off his own “Man on Fire.” Unless “Apology” is the name of Scoot McNairy’s kid in the movie, I am worried it’ll end and Arnie’s death count will be 0. Too bad, cause the initial idea of the movie sounded like an awesome revenge tale for Arnold. I see it as McNairy can’t get one of the planes to answer him, and it crashes. Later we learn that a drug cartel destroyed the communications on the plane because it was carrying an important witness in a FBI murder case. Either way, Arnold loads up and is ready to burn the world in the name of revenge. Who wouldn’t see that?