Lionsgate-Summit have been working on a planned reboot of the Highlander franchise for some time now. Heck, the draft of the script that I read and reviewed a while back was dated January 2009. But after three more years which saw one director drop out and another sign on, it is looking as if things may actually be moving forward as Variety is reporting that Ryan Reynolds is currently circling the project with the intention of playing the film’s titular immortal.
Granted, nothing is official, but this is the closest to actual movement on the project that we’ve seen for some time.
Released in 1986, The Highlander told the story of a Scottsman (Christopher Lambert) born in the 15th century who discovers that he is one of many immortals roaming Earth who frequently clash with each other, dueling for a vaguely defined “Prize.” The film was a surprise hit and launched a string of theatrical sequels and a popular syndicated television series which featured Adrian Paul as Lambert’s character’s cousin. The franchise sputtered out at the turn of the century with some made-for-cable and direct-to-home video entries.
It certainly looks as if Reynolds is trying to find himself a franchise role that he can count on for income over the next several years. Green Lantern could have been that role except for the failure of the film at the box office. There was hope that his iteration of comic book character Deadpool would be spun out of X-Men Origins: Wolverine into its own movie, but Twentieth Century Fox seems to be taking forever in getting that to happen. I suppose that Highlander could prove to be the franchise vehicle that Reynolds has been looking for.
However, the draft that I read cast Connor MacLeod as a more serious, emotional withdrawn and grim person than is evidenced in Reynold’s usual screen persona. Granted, the screenplay has undergone revisions, first by National Treasure screenwriters Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Sellek Wibberley and then Melissa Rosenber , which could have lightened up the character, but in my opinion that would be a mistake. Hopefully, Reynolds is going to stretch his acting muscle a bit and bring himself up to the level of the material.