One of the chief influences on Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned has been the movie Strange Days, easily one of my favorite films of all time, and still not available in anything like a decent home video edition. I ended up dropping some Amazon points to order the German import Blu-ray Disc — it looks terrific — but anyone who doesn't have a multiregion BD player is either going to have to buy one or just suck their thumbs, since inexplicably there are no plans to issue it domestically. Hey, Fox, not to state the crashingly obvious here, but given that you're sitting on a stone cold cult classic that is even more relevant than ever, how about doing us a solid with it?
That said, having the movie back in hand made me think again about all the different influences that have converged in this project.
Back when I first booted it up I compiled a short list, but now I realize the list is longer than I originally imagined. Here's the original short list:
- Strange Days. The ur-influence, in big part because it dealt with a criminal underworld powered by a science-fiction premise, and because it followed in the tradition of the best noirs by having a great antihero and a whole rat's nest of unsavory characters.
- GoodFellas. Another story about a criminal underworld, one which focused on the way the criminals in question created what amounted to their own alternate universe.
- El Topo/The Holy Mountain. The connection Jodorowsky's psychedelic odysseys have to my story is something I don't want to ruin ahead of time, but let's say they're something I knew I had a nod to.
- John Wick. I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this little movie that could, in big part because it brought something to the table I never imagined it would: worldbuilding. A quality I was striving to emulate.
Now for the other, less obvious influences:
- The Matrix. The connection here is extremely distant, but all the more interesting because of it. When I first saw the trailer for that film — a terrific bit of promotion, since tiptoes a great deal around the movie's central premise but still makes it look fascinating — I drew some premature conclusions about what its premise was. On seeing the movie, I realized I'd been 100% off the mark. More like 200%. (I was all the more pleased that the movie had exceeded my expectations.) But I kept my original idea about the premise in mind, and am only now putting it to work.
- Le samouraï. Jean-Pierre Melville's icy, brilliant hit-man story was the inspiration for everything from John Woo's The Killer to Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (well, with that title, it's not hard to see why). I always did have an affection for characters who have a code and stick ruthlessly to it, and navigate the underworld by way of doing so.
- Yojimbo. Attitude. Attitude. Attitude.
- Falling Angel. William Hjortsberg's novel was the basis for the film Angel Heart, but really deserves to be encountered on its own. A great example of how to fuse noir/thriller elements with an entirely different kind of story — in this case, supernatural horror.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. I have the softest spot imaginable for movies about teams of weirdoes who get together and save the world, all contributing an expertise of their own to the pot.