Welcome to a brand new(and hopefully recurring) segment here at Redundant Colors! In this segment, I will cast my choices for hypothetical Hollywood film adaptations of various anime. An idea I shamelessly stole from the Blockbuster Buster on TGWTG. However, to put my own spin on it, I will also be choosing my preferred director, and providing a short breakdown of how I would handle the adapted screenplay. My goal here is just to be a fun little brain exercise, but also to try and prove that there’s nothing inherently difficult about adapting anime to film. Despite what every non-Speed Racer attempt at it would lead you to believe.
Since this is all still very much in the Beta phase, I decided to start myself off with something a little easy. Black Lagoon is already heavily influenced by Hollywood action movies of the 80s and 90s, so making the transition back to film seems like it should be a no-brainer. But, for the sake of this exercise, I will be working under the assumption that this will be a brand new contemporary film for a modern audience. Hollywood attempting to update 80s-era actioners has already proven to have disastrous consequences, but I’m pretty sure I can do better. Let’s get started with…
Balalaika – Rosamund Pike
David Fincher’s Gone Girl was easily one the best movies I saw in 2014, and that was due in large part to Rosamund Pike’s showstopping performance as Amy. Much like Pike’s Amy, Balaika is cold, calculating, and super-crazy. Pike has proven that she can nail the demeanor of Hotel Moscow’s ruthless leader, though it would obviously take some movie magic to match her commanding appearance.
Rosarita “Roberta” Cisneros – Salma Hayek
One of the most prolific Latina actresses working today, Salma Hayek has proven herself gifted with an extremely versatile on-screen presence. In 2012’s Savages, Hayek took a turn as a murderous drug-cartel kingpin, and I’d like to see her channel that kind of energy and bloodlust into a movie that isn’t a gigantic steaming pile. Though it seems that someone may have beaten me to the punch on that one.
Benny – Alan Tudyk
It seems like Alan Tudyk has made a career out of playing quirky action-sidekicks, no sense in stopping him now. Benny doesn’t have a whole lot to do in Black Lagoon aside from make wise-cracks and do hacker stuff, so this role might actually be under-utilizing Tudyk’s on-screen charisma. A ’68 Plymouth Road Runner is a bit of a step down from a Firefly-class starship, but it might be a little safer… maybe.
Dutch – Terry Crews
A.K.A The Old Spice Guy, A.K.A. the only entertaining thing in the Expendables movies. Crews made a career as an action hero after retiring from the NFL, arguably more successfully than some of his fellow former-athletes. Just look at that picture and tell me this man was not born to play a grizzled PT Boat captain turned pirate.
Rokuro “Rock” Okajima – John Cho
Yes, I am aware Cho is technically the wrong nationality, but it’s better than some white pretty-boy right? Fresh off his stint playing Lt. Hikaru Sulu in the rebooted Star trek films, Cho is no stranger to ensemble action-adventure romps. With a talent for both comedic and dramatic roles, Cho is well-suited to play the amorphous everyman that is Rock.
Rebecca “Revy” Lee – Jamie Chung
Former reality TV personality, Jamie Chung, has proven herself to be a bit of a rising star among Asian-American actresses. From a major role in Zach Snyder’s overly-ambitious Sucker Punch, to an acclaimed dramatic role in 2012’s Eden, Chung has proven herself far more talented than her professional background would suggest. She currently has a recurring role as Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, but I would like to see her really cut loose with everyone’s favorite gunslinging pirate-girl.
Director – David Ayer
Writer-turned-director David Ayer may just be one of the most talented action directors working in Hollywood today. Ayer’s recent WWII-era blockbuster, Fury, was easily among the best action movies of 2014. Which is no small feat considering movies like The Raid 2 and Captain America: Winter Soldier were its competition. Ayer also has a knack for wringing memorable performances out of ensemble casts. This guy got Shia LaBeuof to turn in a downright impressive performance. If that’s not an indication of Ayer’s talent, I don’t know what is.
Like I said at the start, Black Lagoon is pretty easy. The show is already borrowing heavily from John Woo-style action flicks of the 80s and 90s, which makes the transition between mediums a little easier. On top of that, since Black Lagoon’s storyline is divided up mostly into mini-arcs, it’s actually quite simple to cut it up into feature-length segments. I think Black Lagoon would work best as a trilogy, covering the first Roberta arc, the Yakuza arc, and Roberta’s Blood Trail.
Let’s just focus on the first one for now, though. To start with, I’d probably do away with the anime’s cold open. For a film, I think it makes more sense to actually start the story following Rock’s daily life in Tokyo. Rather than flashbacks of his tedious corporate life, I would open the movie on that material. Rock stuck at his dead-end office job, perpetually sucking up to his bosses in the slim hope for advancement. Rock being dragged out to office drinking parties at all hours of the night. I would want to really sell that Rock would not only have to accept a job transporting corporate property across the South China Sea, but also that he would gladly leave that life behind to for the bullet-riddled streets of Roanapur.
From there, I would probably cut the first two episodes of the anime into a 30-40 minute First Act. Up to and including the aerial torpedoes, because it’s just not Black Lagoon without that. From there, I’d probably have a few transitional scenes of the Lagoon Company on the job. Some gun-running, a little piracy, etc., with the intent to establish just what kind of life Rock has gotten himself into, and set aside screentime for character work. From there, I’d want to dive straight into Roberta’s introduction. The Lagoon Company takes a new job transporting the kidnapped Garcia, before Roberta rolls into town on the warpath. Roberta’s attack on the Yellow Flag, the car chase, and Balalaika’s behind-the-scenes involvement would constitute most of Act Two.
A quick Third Act focusing on the final confrontation between Roberta and Revy, as well as an everyone lives
happily ever after resolution, and that’s a wrap. One shameless sequel-hook with Balalaika approaching Rock for a job offer in the final scene, and bingo; we’ve got ourselves a modern Hollywood action movie. While it does pain me to cut out some of better material from the anime like the Nazi Arc or Calm Down Two Men, I think most of what makes those episodes good, namely the dialogue and characterization, could easily be rolled into some of the transitional scenes between action setpieces.
And that’s how I would produce a Black Lagoon movie. Agree with my choices? Disagree with my choices? Is there a specific anime you’d want me to tackle for the next one of these? Let me know in the comments!