Dramas like The Shawshank Redemption are rich, rewarding, and inspiring. Maybe they even bring you to tears. You love them, and how could you not? But what if these movies went a different way? What if instead of resolving his problems maturely, Andy (Tim Robbins) tackled his issues with bullets and fists? This is alternate-universe stuff we’re talking about here, and Shawshank is great as is, but what would the classic prison flick and four other movies be like as action pics?
The Shawshank Redemption
Action Tagline: Redemption hurts!
What Would Be Different: One of the greatest and most inspiring movies ever could go explosive. Instead of through trickery, Andy breaks out of jail by rallying the inmates at Shawshank for a full-on jailbreak. And that escape tunnel he was working on? That’s his secret munitions workshop. And all the while Morgan Freeman narrates: “Andy Dufresne was my friend. And his friend was a broken off mop handle. My, Andy could whip a thousand asses with that thing and still have time to tell me about Zihuatanejo.”
Climactic Action Moment: In the action version, you can be sure that evil warden wouldn’t take his own life. Andy would, of course, beat him to death.
In the Name of the Father
Action Tagline: Fight on, in the name of the father!
What Would Be Different: This Father’s Day release would no longer pull audiences’ heartstrings as the father of Gerry (Daniel Day-Lewis) tragically joins him in prison. Instead, the prisoners are taking no prisoners on their way to a happy ending. We’re talking a good old-fashioned Escape From Alcatraz-style prison-break film.
Climactic Action Moment: If the titular father, Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite), has to die, then let it at least be in battle, with him acting as a sacrifice (think Bruce Willis in Armageddon) allowing his son and friends to be free.
This Boy’s Life
Action Tagline: Stepfather’s suck!
What Would Be Different: This inspirational tale of coming of age under emotional abuse gets the extra shot of adrenaline when young, abused Tobias (Leonardo DiCaprio) decides he’s had enough of tyrant Robert De Niro and begins to will his 95-pound body into fighting shape.
Climactic Action Moment: Imagine DiCaprio engaged in the kind of training and ass kicking last seen in Rocky IV. Some montages, a couple of workout sequences, wham! DeNiro will be sorry he ever messed with this boy’s life.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Action Tagline: The inmates are taking over the asylum!
What Would Be Different: Knowing that the war of wills he’s locked in with Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) could turn deadly, R. P. (Jack Nicholson) decides that pleading insanity is not the only way out. So he trains and inspires a cohesive group of asylum inmates to break free from their literal and metaphorical chains, forming an Expendables-like unit. Using Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) and his sink-tossing power as a battering ram, Jack and his crew are forced into a showdown for the ages.
Climactic Action Moment: Like you never wanted to see what would happen if Nurse Ratched and Randle battled hand to hand. The stare down alone would be worth the price of admission.
Cool Hand Luke
Action Tagline: What we got here is revenge!
What Would Be Different: Paul Newman’s Luke is badass as is, but in the action version, when the warden reminds his inmates that “What we got here is…a failure to communicate,” you can be sure Luke tells him that “You should hear this loud and clear,” as homemade explosions free the gang, setting loose a wild finale.
Climactic Action Moment: In an action pic, Luke isn’t going to die as a martyr. He’s going to have a showdown with the warden, in which he’ll undoubtedly be rescued by Dragline (George Kennedy), who will gun down the warden and remind us, “Ain’t no man can eat no fifty bullets!”
Nick Stevens tries to make funny about movies, pop culture, and sports as often as possible. He lists John McClane, Batman, and Tom Brady as the people with whom he’d most like to have beers. For more of his grown-up nonsense, visit his Tumblr page or follow him on Twitter.