Warners Bros. and David Ayer have high hopes for their inevitable remake of The Dirty Dozen. Ayer, who last directed the popular but critically reviled Bright and Suicide Squad, is writing and directing the remake, based on Robert Aldrich’s classic war movie released in 1967 and starring the legendary Lee Marvin. The original film is set during World War II, but Ayer is bringing the story to the modern day.
For over a decade, Warner Bros. has been trying to remake The Dirty Dozen. Years ago, Zak Penn (The Avengers) wrote a script for the remake. However, the project has never gained much momentum at the studio. The movie did, however, have Guy Ritchie (Snatch) once attached to direct.
He’s the kind of mindful macho director who was a right match for the material, so it’s a shame his vision for the remake never came to life.
It’s rarely good luck to put the cart before the horse. Ayer doesn’t even have an announced cast yet for The Dirty Dozen, but he’s already thinking it could lead to sequels. He’s imagining it as a mega-star franchises like Mission: Impossible and the Fast & The Furious. During an interview with Collider, Ayer teased his plans for his remake:
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.
Not a World War II Movie
Ayer previously made a World War II movie with Fury, which has a fantastic first two acts and a more routine Hollywood conclusion with more action, less character. With The Dirty Dozen, Ayer — who served in the Navy — isn’t keeping the plot in WW II. The director confirmed to Collider that with a modern day setting, he can have more fun with the story, have more comedy. Ayer’s body-of-work isn’t exactly big on laughs.
David Ayer’s Vision
Ayer is both a surprising yet sensible choice for the remake. His filmography is all over the place, with big highs and low lows. He’s hard to pin down as a director. Ayer has crafted several solid thrillers, including Street Kings, Fury, and End of Watch, but his major commercial efforts aren’t nearly as entertaining as those movies.
The Suicide Squad and Bright aren’t fun experiences. They’re grimy, messy, and the action is never as intense as Ayer’s more kinetic work.
Ayer is almost a completely different director when he’s working on big-budget projects, like The Dirty Dozen. To be fair, The Suicide Squad was stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster in the editing room.
There were several wildly different versions of that movie, some of which were apparently significantly better than what audiences saw in theaters. Next up from Ayer is a Fox cop show, Deputy, and a very promising drama starring Shia LaBeouf, The Tax Collector.
The latter is a crime movie, which is where Ayer excels as a storyteller. He knows that world well, and it shows in his best work. The Tax Collector was expected to come out in 2019, but it’s still without a release date.
Perhaps the independent film will hit the festival circuit in 2020.