When I interviewed Brett Ratner in Vegas last month, he sent some mixed messages about remakes: “Hollywood is unfortunately built on the sequels right now – it’s all about the sequels and the remakes, and that’s a challenge. There’s not as much ingenuity in the 60s and 70s when filmmakers were like inventing genres, creating stuff you never seen before. Italy, France – all over the world. They never would have thought of remaking a movie… But everyone’s going to have their opinion on what shouldn’t be remade. To remake The Godfather is sacrilege… but why? There are so many channels and formats there could be an audience that wants to see The Godfather as a four hour fucking miniseries. I don’t know, let people express themselves.”
Maybe his mixed messages were because he was circling another remake of his own (well, besides the remake of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie he talked about) – The Boys From Brazil, the finest movie ever made about cloning Hitler.
Based on a pretty strong thriller by Ira Levin, The Boys From Brazil had Lawrence Olivier discovering that Nazis in South America, led by Gregory Peck’s Dr. Mengele, were cloning Der Fuhrer 90+ times in order to kick start the Fourth Reich. The film was sort of a big deal at the time because Gregory Peck just didn’t play many genocidal Nazi lunatic doctors.
"The original was a flawed film with a brilliant concept," Ratner explains now. "You no longer have to spend time explaining cloning as you did then." Sure, but you do have to explain why there are a bunch of Nazi doctors running around over 60 years after their heyday.
The film is set up at New Line, and might be Ratner’s film to follow up Rush Hour 3. Mel Gibson is in talks to play Mengele.