I admire James Mangold’s body of work immensely. He’s jumped from genre to genre since making his first film, Heavy, fifteen years ago. Between now and then he’s tackled police dramas (Copland), psychological thrillers (Identity), romantic comedies (Kate & Leopold), biopics (Walk The Line), Westerns (the remake of 3:10 To Yuma) and – most recently – all-out actioners (Knight & Day). For his next gig, he’ll combine the latter pair of film-types for New Regency’s revenge thriller The Gunslinger.
The Hollywood Reporter says the film, written by John Hlavin (upcoming Underworld 4), is described as a contemporary Western and centers on an ex-Texas Ranger who sets out to punish the men who killed his brother. So basically someone at New Regency thought that they could one-up Dwayne Johnson’s Thanksgiving turkey Faster and hired a revered filmmaker to make it happen.
I’m happy to see Mangold get another deal as he’s one of my favorite directors in the business right now, but this isn’t the film that I’d hoped he would make next. There’s only so far that even a quality auteur can take a contrived high concept action thriller. We’ve seen this movie a hundred times before and I fear that The Gunslinger will become just another forgettable shoot’em up flick. It’s all up to the script and as Hlavin hasn’t written anything of note to date, I’m very skeptical about this movie as of now.