The reboot of “Highlander” has been floating around for the better part of a decade. Lions gate hasn’t had much luck with the project, with one director and writer coming and going. Now, they’ve finally managed to get it up and running, with Chad Stahelski, the director of the “John Wick” movies at the helm. That’s good news for several reasons, the most obvious of which is up there on the screen with his Keanu Reeves actioners.
More than that, Stahelski is apparently a big fan of the “Highlander” saga, and he has a very specific vision of what he wants to accomplish when he takes over. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stahelski revealed that he plans to make a whole trilogy of films, and how he intends to fully explore the world of the Immortals — without any alien nonsense (seen in the godawful 1991 sequel “Highlander: The Quickening”)
Stahelski said: “When I came on, the property had already been developed for a couple of years and, as things happen in Hollywood, yeah, there was aliens, meteors, spaceships, uh, DNA mutations, terrorists. I mean, they’d tried to drag every plot into the Immortal world. My personal opinion, I don’t want to see any of that. I’m not interested. I have seen other movies like that. I haven’t seen the Immortal world. It’s like, John Wick could have interacted with terrorists and police — if you notice, there’s no police, other than (Thomas Sadoski’s character) Jimmy. I like to be insular. I want to see Immortals. I’m invested in the Immortal world. I think that’s very important.”
He elaborated on his trilogy plans: “My pitch initially was, ‘Look, I think there’s more here than I can fit in one movie. If I can crack the code of trying to string out the Gathering to three films, would you guys be interested?’ [They were] like, ‘If you can do it.’ Between me, and some of the conceptual people involved, we believe that we can. What, you met four Immortals on the first movie? I think I can introduce you to an entire world of Immortals. Imagine the great characters you could have. I mean, it speaks for itself. So, that’s the plan: to stay as true as we can to the original mythology, and just expand the world, and have fun within the world — without bringing in interstellar travel!”
Stahelski also touched on the action aspects, especially the sword fights. He clearly wants to take it to the next level: “It’s got an action-design challenge. What would a guy really be like after 500 years of practicing sword-work? I’m still a stunt guy at heart. You want to reinvent gunfights, how do you do it? You want to reinvent swordfighting, how do you do it? And that’s where we are at now.” Lionsgate has given Stahelski full rein to play with the franchise as he sees fit, and he’s hoping to come up with an interesting way to introduce the franchise to new audiences “without stepping on what’s great about the original property. You don’t want to over complicate it. I think it speaks very simply: ‘There can be only one!’ ‘We’re immortals!’ ‘Don’t get your head chopped off!’”