What if ‘Deliverance’ was remade with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson?


Released in the early 70s, Deliverance, directed by John Boorman is one of those pictures steeped in atmosphere and suspense. Masterfully paced and directed by Boorman, it allows the audience to enter a world it’s rarely seen through a group of city slickers headed by Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.  However, made as it was back in the 70s, it was more of a social message film than it was an action picture.(The first true action film of the 70s would star a shark a few years later.) And it’s in this area, that Deliverance deserves a remake today as an action picture for a new generation. 

Here’s how: 

  1. Cast Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as the 2 main leads. They both bring a modern flair to these classic roles. Wilson is the modern prince jester of today’s Hollywood cinema (sharing that title with Robert Downey, Jr) and Vaughn can play this role with serious caution and not make it campy.
  2. The theme of survival and the juxtaposition of 2 worlds – urban vs. rural – can still be preserved in this remake. In fact, by introducing the many gadgets of today’s technology, a good writer and director can show they could still be useless in a remote area.
  3. The conflicts between the characters can greater. If one of them is sleeping with other’s wife, the undercurrent of tension only makes an audience wonder if these friends would splinter and come together to save each other’s asses.
  4. Cast Steve Zahn, Jeremy Piven or Oliver Platt as one of the 2 friends (originally played by Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty). Either one of these actors will bring a strong sense of fraternity between the quartet of friends and so it only becomes heart-rending when perhaps one of their lives are compromised.
  5. The controversial rape scene might not hold up as well today (given that male rape doesn’t go down well with studio execs – does the guy really have to get raped?) But if it’s graphically shot then the press will point out that part of the remake.

The greatest lacking point about Deliverance was that it lacked a solid third act. It feels like its missing two or three more action sequences and beats. Maybe it’s the revenge aspect of the movie that was never fully realized. If Deliverance was released in today’s cinematic climate, we just know it would bomb. Based on a novel by James Dickey, there’s probably more nuanced character stuff in the novel that could be pulled out. Given a strong screenplay and a director like Christopher Nolan, the remake of Deliverance could deliver a knockout punch for today’s audiences.

Commentary, Hollywood

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