With the release of Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder and the recent casting of Brad Pitt and Simon Pegg in Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming Inglorious Bastards, Time Out casts its own ‘men on a mission’ movie.
In a move that’s sure to have original Dirty Dozen commander Lee Marvin spinning in his lead-lined grave, we’ve decided to give the pivotal role of Squad Leader to… a lady! No stranger to firearms (Insomnia), gruelling training regimens (Million Dollar Baby) or testosterone-soaked locker room banter (Boys Don’t Cry), Hilary Swank is exactly the sort of diamond-eyed, no-nonsense hardass we’ll need to whip these degenerates into shape!
The mama’s boy
Back in his Happy Days, erm, days, mealy-mouthed suck-up Ron Howard would’ve been perfect to play the snivelling jerk who stays in the bunker while the other guys get slaughtered for king and country. If we’re bringing it forward to now, blue-eyed street minstrel Justin Timberlake could – contrary to his super-sexualised stage persona – take up Ron’s perpetually whining mantle with aplomb.
The plum role of any ensemble carnage movie, the poet-warrior is the heart and soul of the piece. He has paratrooped into the very heart of war and emerged reborn with a female-friendly line in pretentious non-sequiturs and affected brooding. And there’s currently nobody more qualified in this arena than far-sighted jazz-mutineer Howard Moon (Julian Barrett) from The Mighty Boosh.
The Bronx blowhard
Constantly harping on about how many ‘broads’ he’s going to ‘bang’ when he rotates back to the real world, the showy part of Big Apple braggart allows film-makers to explore the twin demons of fear and pride that dwell in men’s souls. As he proved in Miller’s Crossing, nobody does vainglorious self-delusion quite like John Turturro. There’s sure to be tears before bedtime with this guy.
The trigger-happy psycho
With Joe Pesci probably sick to the teeth of being asked to reprise his, ‘You think I’m funny?’ business, we think that the underrated yet overused could be really intimidating if he toned down the funny voice. Failing that, what if futurist matinee idol Brendan Fraser ruffled up that foppish centre parting? We could easily see him spraying a paddy field with liquid fire while rakishly sucking down a Chesterfield.
The trigonometry student trying to prove to his pop that he’s a man
While there’s no doubt that someone like Luke Wilson would make this role his own, he doesn’t quite have the required gawk to really make you pity the chisel-cheeked little fellow. In fact, if Casey Affleck was willing to exactly replay his palm-sweatingly nervy performance in The Assassination Of Jesse James, he’d be a shoo-in.
The (failed) draft dodger
This is the guy who ends up wailing, ‘I’m not even supposed to be here, man!’ having been frog-marched to the draft hall by the local sheriff (played by Sam Elliott in a ‘I sure as hellfire didn’t want this job, sonny, but by Gad I’m gonna see it through’ role). It’d be quite a coup for any director to make you feel sorry for Jason Biggs, but it’s really got to be some drippy quarterback type… Sean William Scott?
The knife man
In Dead Man’s Shoes, Paddy Considine showed that he possessed a rare (quasi-sadistic) proficiency when it came to doing ‘slow-and-painful’. If not an off-the-hook, bandana-wearing local torturer in a makeshift POW camp, Paddy would be your man for some deep jungle mano-a-mano action... no, not that kind.
The tech guy
Usually British (Simon Pegg in M:I:III) or bespectacled (Kevin Smith in Die Hard 4.0), the noughties reinvention of the dynamite expert of yore is ripe for the newly buff Daniel Radcliffe to trade his swizzlestick for some heavy ordnance. Let’s just hope the script boys can resist slipping in endless heavy-handed asides about him being ‘a bit of a whizz’ with computers…
The pencil pusher
While bullet-riddled mayhem ensues elsewhere, there’s got to be a guy sweating in the back-ground with a blood-flecked notepad and one eye on the impending war crimes tribunal. If the always unlovable Jon Lovitz is unavailable, then we’d go for the hilghly-strung, pooch-faced stylings of Jason Schwartzman.