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Saturday, 7 October, 2000, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Stallone's Carter caper
Sylvester Stallone as Jack Carter
Stallone: Doesn't want to emulate Sir Michael Caine
By BBC News Online's entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

A Hollywood remake of the 1971 British gangster classic Get Carter arrives in US cinemas with its star, Sylvester Stallone, expecting a negative reaction from many fans of the original.

Stallone plays Jack Carter, a role made famous by Sir Michael Caine in the 1971 original, directed by Mike Hodges in an impressive feature film debut.

Over the years the picture has developed a strong cult following. Among movie aficionados it is regarded as one of the best British gangster films.

In the 1971 picture, Sir Michael plays a merciless London hoodlum who travels to Newcastle to track down his brother's murderers and seek revenge against those responsible.

In a spellbinding performance, he brought Carter to life as a complex man.

Sir Michael Caine in Get Carter
Sir Michael's performance has become cult viewing
He could shed tears and evoke compassion one moment and disdain the next, because he is also a ruthless killer.

At the end of the film he pays the ultimate price for his violent deeds.

In the new version, Stallone journeys to Seattle, also filled with desire for bloody revenge, but in true Hollywood "feel good" style he ends up redeeming himself.

But the movie has already suffered a from negative word of mouth reports.

Different story

Stallone claims his Jack Carter is a figure of redemption and is therefore quite different from the man Sir Michael portrayed in the original.

"Michael's character was very happy living the gangster life and dying in the gangster life, there was nothing redeemable about him. I'm a sucker for redemption," he says.

Rachael Leigh Cook stars as Doreen
Rachael Leigh Cook stars as Doreen
Fans of the British original are not happy to see a Hollywood version of their beloved classic.

To them, it is as if a British director decided to do a remake of American director Martin Scorsese's 1973 gritty urban crime drama Mean Streets.

Stallone is eager to set the record straight. He maintains his Get Carter is more a launching pad for a very different story than just a line-by-line remake.

"The (1971) film totally remains intact. I thought it would be an error to try to go note-for-note or follow that path," he says.

Sir Michael appears opposite Stallone in a small cameo in several scenes in the new Get Carter.

Stallone recalls it felt a little strange on the set standing opposite Sir Michael in a role the respected British actor made his own 30 years ago.

"It's like being a burglar. I'm robbing your house right in front of you, and being the sportsman that he is, he was just so overwhelmingly supportive," he says.

Glossy

The original Get Carter delivered a raw, sordid look inside Newcastle's underworld. It was a sexually charged work displaying some memorable cinematic artistry.

It had a stellar cast that showcased the talents, not only of Sir Michael, but also Britt Ekland and Ian Hendry.

Get Carter 2000
The new movie: Dark like the original but more glossy
The new film has a different feel. It is dark but more glossy, and the gritty realism of the original has been lost, although credit has to go to director Stephen Kay who clearly strove to give the remake a moody aesthetic.

The relationship between Carter and his niece, minimal in the original, has been developed as a major sentimental strand in the new film with Rachael Leigh Cook doing a fine job in the role of Doreen.

But some of the acting talent in the remake seems miscast. Miranda Richardson is not quite right as Jack Carter's sister-in-law, and Stallone, try as he might, can't quite cut it as Carter.

Get Carter was not screened for American film critics in advance of its US release which is often a sign that a studio doesn't have confidence in its product.

It is not however a terrible film, just another mediocre Hollywood crime drama and one that can only suffer when, inevitably, it is held in comparison to Mike Hodges' far superior original.

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See also:

30 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Stallone sued by staff
11 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Get Carter: Original and best
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