“Highlander” reboot idea
Let me pitch you something...
In my house I own a majority of the DVDs out of anyone in the family. But there’s a select few that my dad already had. As a little kid I wasn’t allowed to watch most of them and was enticed by all these movies constantly sitting in our glass cupboard in the lounge room that had really interesting covers but were forbidden to me. Stuff like Predator, The Untouchables, The Shawshank Redemption, etc. As I got older I eventually worked my way through most of them and liked them all but one I never got around to was my dad’s copy of “Highlander”. My dad would occasionally give me a run-through of the plot to sell me on it but he was coming at it from more of a dumb fun angle. He didn’t think the movie was all that great but he had a soft spot for it and wanted me to see it for my self. I don’t know why it took until I was 19-20 to finally get around to it. After all, the plot was something that sounded pretty damn cool.
For anyone that doesn’t know, “Highlander” is about a warrior in medieval Scotland who discovers that he’s immortal and has to see the world age around him as he makes it to present day America not aging one day beyond his 30’s. Now he’s not the only immortal, and the only thing that can kill one of these guys is for them to be decapitated by the medieval sword of another immortal. And when there’s just one of these guys left he’ll be granted with some holy power that will allow him to rule the world or something. So one particularly evil immortal dude played by Clancy Brown goes around chopping immortal guys’ heads off and the lead dude has to try to fend Brown off for everyone’s sake.
That is a damn fine premise for a movie. And the soundtrack is all Queen songs Flash Gordon-style so how can you go wrong? As soon as I started watching Highlander…I found out what was wrong. Highlander was produced by Cannon Films, a notoriously cheap and cheesey movie company that reigned supreme in the 80’s with all their action movies usually starring Chuck Norris. These guys once made a movie where Lou Ferrigno played Hercules and threw a grizzly bear into space. So when that logo popped up I was disappointed. Not that a movie by them can’t be really enjoyable. But I was really hyped by the premise and saw a cool action movie in my head. But it wasn’t gonna be that. It was gonna be campy and silly. And it was campy and silly. For starters, the lead guy is played by Christopher Lambert, who kinda sounds like if Gollum and Peter Lorre had a kid together. The action is pretty hokey too. Some of it’s fine and some of it’s just sorta weak. For a movie where all the violence is strictly knights sword fighting I’d like something a little cooler. Clancy Brown as the villain does an okay job and his character is a true evil son of a bitch. He murders, he rapes, he plunders. He just has no regard for human life and since he’s nearly invincible that can be a scary as hell guy. And apparently his character was written much more menacingly. But when the producers got their hands on the script they kept all the rapey stuff but made him silly. Brown himself wasn’t even a fan of that. Oh and Sean Connery’s in it too. As an Egyptian man who speaks Spanish…..Let’s move on as quickly as possible.
Since the release of Highlander there have been a few sequels, a TV show and movies based on the TV show. Non of them did very well critically or financially. But I could never help but think how good this premise would serve an action movie. But I’m usually not that big of a fan of just remaking a movie with the same plot and characters. Which is how I came up what is essentially a soft reboot. Set in the modern day and upping the ante everywhere. And upping the violence.
So, finally, the pitch…
Picture a grimy, rusty little workshed. Lit like something in the Evil Dead remake. We hear a scuffle outside and a guy gets thrown through the door. He’s a bloody mess. His hands and feet are bound and he’s gagged. We can tell from his tattoos and clothes that he’s some low life gangster. Let’s call him Chris. A few more gangsters enter. The guy at the front who I’ll call “Dick” has a shotgun pointed at Chris’ face. They smack him around a bit for whatever he did to piss these guys off. Steal some drugs or money, maybe. Maybe slept with one of their “old ladies”. The finer details aren’t as important for now. Dick does the Clarence Boddicker thing from RoboCop where he aims the shotgun at different parts of Chris’ body so we don’t know what he’ll end up shooting. He raises the shotgun up at Chris’ face and BANG. Chris’ head blows apart. Blood and bone and brain all over the walls. Chris falls back. The gangsters leave and shut the door behind them. The gangsters go to their place where they all hang out with their legion of prostitutes and do alllllll the drugs.
Back in the workshed, Chris gets up. His head’s fine. It’s covered in blood but it’s fine. Chris looks around. Trying to figure out what just happened. He wrestles free of his restraints and leaves for the house where the gangsters and prostitutes are partying. Chris enters and it takes a second but the gangsters jump a mile when they recognise him. They’re arguing like “I thought you f***ing killed him!”, “I f***ing did, man!”. In a panic they open fire and Chris cops them all to the gut, to the face, all that stuff. He wipes the blood away and there’s not even a scratch. Chris gives a smirk and charges at the thugs to get their guns where he quickly kills them all. Now Chris realises that he can’t be killed. I know what you’re thinking though; “Wait, he’s a gangster and it’s taken this long before anyone’s shot him to see if he can die?” Yeah well that’s kinda what the story depends upon to start so deal.
Chris takes their money and their car and starts settling scores around the city as the criminal who kills criminals that no one can put down. Now this is the meat of the story and if you want an example of what it’s gonna look/feel like imagine a live action San Andreas with the cheat code on that makes you unable to die. It’ll be completely insane. Chris will eventually hear about some other guy who’s experienced these sort of things before and meets up with a university Professor who’s also immortal and knows all about the legend of the immortal Highlander legend. And this is where we get some references to the first movie. Like how Creed references Rocky 1 without going overboard. Like I said, this is a soft reboot, not a straight up remake of the first movie. Chris and the Professor chat a while about the fact that while he was born just like the other immortals in medieval times, Chris is of the current generation. The first immortal in hundreds of years. The Professor shows him his collection of relics he’s collected throughout the years including his old medieval Highlander sword. And the Professor tries to cut off Chris’ head with it. Surprise surprise, the Professor is our villain. He wants to be the only one of his kind so he can have the almighty power. Which for now I want to explain is something very Jesus-y and unnatural. It’ll leave a bad taste in your mouth thinking about anyone who isn’t 100% pure of heart wanting to have this power.
So stakes are raised, now while the city is after Chris, Chris is being hunted and needs to figure out how to defeat the Professor. He eventually finds the grave of one of the original movie’s characters and steals their sword. (Ha. “Steels” their sword. Get it? Ge–Okay I’ll go.) Chris and the Professor finally face off in a sword fight which causes a huge amount of destruction and everything around them goes to pieces trying to break up the fight of the century. Which will be set to Queen music, of course. Eventually Chris will get the upper hand but realising he can’t kill the Professor without becoming the very monster he was trying to prevent in the first place, Chris will go full Cannon films and cut off his own head as well. Somehow. So they’re both dead. Leaving the world around them to wonder what the hell any of that was about. Also yeah I know this kinda kills off any potential for sequels but that’s fine. After all…there can be only one.