It's been a while since we, the editors of Screened, sat down to dream up our terrible ideas for remakes of a beloved film. Well, specifically the cast members. In theory, these movies would just be the same movies we loved as younger men, albeit with new people who are probably hotter and less old than the actors that previously starred in them. Anyway, we're doing that again now. Exciting, right?!?
This week, in honor of our theme geared toward all things Arnold Schwarzenegger, we've decided to tackle the hulking Austrian's 1985 explosion-fest, Commando. As a film filled to the point of combustion with out-sized characters, it's a prime candidate for our particular brand of barely-thought-out dream recasting. Plus, as much as a Commando remake is wholly unnecessary, it's just fun to think up who, if anyone, could fill the mustachio'd, chain-mailed boots of Vernon Wells as psychotic henchman, Bennett. Oh, and I guess Arnie too.
For this edition, we'll be recasting the roles of preternatural badass John Matrix, the aforementioned evil henchman, Bennett, ruthless South American dictator General Arius (previously played by Dan Hedaya), sniveling, slimebag bad guy Sully, and the perpetually alarmed, surprisingly cooperative flight attendant Cindy, made sort of famous by Rae Dawn Chong. We decided to skip out on casting the role of Matrix's kidnapped daughter, previously played by a pint-sized Alyssa Milano, because seriously, that girl is like 10 years old. Can you think of anyone super great to play that part? I didn't think so.
Also, in lieu of casting the last of the primary bad guys, the one originally played by Bill Duke, let's just assume that we'd recast Bill Duke. Because seriously, it's Bill Duke.
And now, onto our lists!
|John Matrix: Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson|
Out of all the leads Schwarzenegger played, Matrix had to be cruelest trash talker. That whole “I lied” routine he did with Sully hanging over the ravine? That was brutal… and funny. And it was in about the same spirit as the pranks ol’ Rampage pulled on wannabe cage fighters every week on the seasons he coached in Ultimate Fighter. Here’s a guy who’ll make you crack up at the same time he’s cracking your skull open on the concrete pavement. Here’s John Matrix.
|Cindy: Ellen Page|
Rae Dawn Chong was the most random of innocent bystanders/hostages in Commando, and there’s not a ton of qualities to define Cindy aside from panic, sympathy and an unusual lack of sexual tension with Matrix. As such, I propose we flip the switch entirely and cast an actress who totally doesn’t belong in a movie like this. Picture it: a quirky indy girl running around a testosterone-pumped gun ‘n explosions flick! Give her a little room to improvise and her dynamic with Rampage will be fantastically bizarre.
|Arius: Danny Trejo|
Trejo’s been playing lone wolves and henchmen for too long. He needs a promotion up the corporate ladder of outrageous evil. I honestly don’t remember too much of what Dan Hedaya did here outside of how he big he made his eyebrows, but I won’t ever be able to forget Mr. Arius if he’s played by the one and only Machete.
|Bennett: Ben Foster|
Before anybody panics about size, I have no doubt that Foster would commit to getting jacked for this. I don’t doubt that he’s got that kind of method focus. Not a shred of doubt. Bennett’s defined less by his mass, anyhow, and more for how he’s in serious danger of losing his shit anytime Matrix is around. I’m basing this off Foster’s turns as an unhinged toady in 3:10 to Yuma and as a terrifying home invader in Hostage. Squish those performances together, throw an all-occasions chainmail shirt on him and you’ve got a Bennett for the 2010s.
|Sully: Jonah Hill|
You need a twerp for this role. A guy who doesn’t deserve to be in his position of dominance. Somebody who’s going to irritate Matrix maddeningly for every second our hero isn’t allowed to snap his neck. Topher Grace has quite thoroughly typecast himself as this kind of weasel, but I want to go for the brilliantly-less-obvious choice. You’ve got to think about foils here. Just imagine putting this guy and Rampage in the same room together. Now, imagine Jonah telling him that he controls whether Rampage’s kid gets killed or not, and then needling it in like he so often does. You can then understand how cathartic the whole “I lied” bit would be with this guy.
|John Matrix: Terry Crews|
I think Tom and I are thinking on a similar wavelength. You need someone jacked, someone who can deliver a killer one-liner, and also someone who isn't so young, that he couldn't reasonably play a world-weary, retired ex-commando. While Rampage is funny and all, I think Crews is the more seasoned pick. He's shown time and time again he can be both hilarious and brutal when called upon, especially in last year's The Expendables. He's deserved a starring role like this for years now, and this would be the perfect fit.
|Cindy: Zooey Deschanel|
Again, similar idea to what Tom was talking about. However, I think Deschanel is a slightly more interesting pick for a couple of reasons: One, her eyes are goddamned huge, and thusly, she is pretty damn good at giving reactions of panic and surprise. Two, she's already played a flight attendant in Almost Famous, so it's already a great fit. And hey, you could even have her do a musical number!
|Arius: Ian McShane|
This might be slightly akin to having Charlton Heston play a Mexican, but hear me out. McShane is a natural at portraying sour-faced and quietly, disturbingly violent characters in positions of inscrutable power. Need an example? Go watch Sexy Beast sometime. Sure, McShane's a brit and would have to foreign-up his routine a bit, but I think he's up for the challenge.
|Bennett: Christopher Meloni|
Anyone who has read my twitter feed of late knows I'm utterly obsessed with Clive Owen's new mustache. Therefore, he was my first pick for this role. However, it's perhaps a bit beneath his pay grade, and frankly, Bennett needs more of a loose cannon type personality. Suddenly, I recalled Meloni's role in, of all things, Wet Hot American Summer. There, he showed how easily he can slip into the role of a man just barely grasping onto the frayed threads of sanity. Add a homicidal element to that, a mustache, and a chainmail vest, and you've got your Bennett.
|Sully: Chris Tucker|
Literally, my only real criteria for this role was, "Who would I most like to see Terry Crews drop off of a cliff?" Tucker immediately sprung to mind. He's shrill, skinny, obnoxious, and hasn't been in a movie for a while. This could be his big comeback!
|John Matrix: Dwayne Johnson|
Dwayne Johnson. Until further notice, The Rock will be my official Schwarzenegger stand-in for all intents and purposes. He’s got the build, he could credibly come across as an ex-military badass, and I can’t think of any other action star working today who could deliver such incredibly goofy one-liners while both appearing serious and giving a bit of a wink to the audience.
|Cindy: Brooklyn Decker|
I don’t think you necessarily need any serious acting chops to portray this ditzy flight attendant very well, so I’ll go for a bit of eye candy here and give the nod to Brooklyn Decker. We would, of course, have to write in a bikini scene for the whole seaplane sequence.
|Arius: Alfred Molina|
The guy is a shapeshifter as an actor, able to come across as both smart, stupid, evil, kindhearted, and so on, sometimes in the same performance. I think he’d dig into a sinister role like this and give it a gravitas far beyond what it probably deserves.
|Bennett: Timothy Olyphant|
|Sully: Walton Goggins|
To complete the Justified two-fer here, I’d have to go with a slightly more urbane Walter Goggins for the Sully role. Goggins can actually play straight pretty well when he wants to (anyone remember seeing him in The Bourne Identity?), and I’d love to see him try and hit on Brooklyn Decker while Dwayne Johnson furtively hides just out of eyesight. That actually sounds like a particularly horrible porno, now that I think about it...
|John Matrix: Jason Statham|
We did one of these before for Total Recall and I’ll say the same thing I said then: I don’t think there’s an actor today that can truly fill Arnold’s shoes. He brought a unique blend of fun, intimidation, and charisma to the screen. That being said, I think Jason Statham would be best suited for a role like this. He’s badass enough to deliver the tongue and cheek one-liners without looking like a fool and certainly has proven his prowess as a leading man in the past. Plus, he’s got an accent.
|Cindy: Alice Braga|
Honestly, I think a lot of ladies could slip into this spot pretty easily. Alice Braga,
however, has a proven track record as a female companion in action-driven films.
She’s also got a lot of pure acting talent as evidenced by her turn in the mesmerizing City of God. Braga can play the pretty face, but gets her hands dirty if need be… not that she’d really need to all that much in this one.
|Arius: Benicio Del Toro|
First off, he absolutely looks the part. Benicio Del Toro screams military dictator… or drug trafficker. Take your pick. Arius is somewhat of a complex character. An audience has to be able to believe he can handle himself (and a gun), while at the same time possessing the craftiness and political foresight that a rise to extreme political power would dictate. Benicio is at his best when he’s playing complex, layered characters, so I’d expect him to hit this one out of the park.
|Bennett: Eric Bana|
I’m talking about Chopper Eric Bana here. If you haven’t seen Chopper, you should try to seek it out because Bana is simply phenomenal in it. He gained around thirty pounds, not all of it muscle, to play infamous Australian criminal Chopper Read in the film. Why am I giving so much weight to this one role? Because anyone who’s seen his performance in that one can easily see how it would translate to a kickass Bennett. This was by far the easiest choice on the list for me.
|Sully: Barry Pepper|
This part needs a character actor who radiates smarm, because Sully is the kind
of guy the audience hates instantaneously. He’s got that face that makes you want to punch him right in the nose even before he opens his mouth. Sure, Barry Pepper usually plays likeable characters, but he’s a talented enough actor to pull this one off. And can you honestly stare at a photo of Pepper long enough and not think there’s at least a little smugness lurking underneath?
And with that, we once again ask you, the reader, to comment away on our picks. Did you like them? Hate them? Do you have startlingly obvious picks of your own that you can't believe we missed? Tell us! We'll totally read them! Honest!