In this latest edition of Remake or Revere, we will be looking at the #1 movie from October 21, 2001 weekend. This cinematic thriller, starring Johnny Depp, as Detective Fredrick Abberline, and Heather Graham, as sex worker Mary Kelly. The movie is based on the graphic novel of the same name about the Jack the Ripper murders.
I had never seen this movie before being tasked to decide whether it should be remade or revered so let’s get down to it.
Starting with some overview of the movie, as mentioned above it was a box office #1, it grossed a little over $11M in its opening weekend. That was enough to take the box office crown from Training Day, which had held the top spot the previous two weeks.
You can find our article on Training day (here).
The critical response to the movie was pretty mixed from what I can tell as is demonstrated by its 57% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 5.3/10. At Metacritic it didn’t fare much better with 54/100 score.
So this was not what I would call a good movie. Matter of fact I find it very hard to say much good about this movie at all. The plot revolves around Depp playing a detective in charge of catching the Ripper. The problem is the Ripper is protected by the Free Masons, obviously. Why? Without going into too much detail, to protect the Monarchy. A noble married a commoner and had a baby that would be heir etc. Apparently, they didn’t realize that in the 2020’s marrying a commoner would be the “it” thing to do for princes.
This move is crazy dark, and I mean that visually. I know it’s supposed to be a thriller and dark is the thing but it was a bit much for me. Lighten it up. Avoid the slasher scenes with the Ripper that really don’t do much for the movie and get deeper into the mystery of it all and I think it would be a better movie. Heather Graham was fine in the movie opposite Depp but her character was kinda underdeveloped. I think you could do more there.
So if we are recasting this movie, I’m not sure why you would but here we go.
I’d replace Depp with someone else who plays a good stoner. Depp chases the dragon, their terms in the movie, to take away the pain from a personal loss and hallucinate visions that allow his brain to figure out what’s going on. So I’m going to go with Giovanni Ribisi. I don’t have a good reason for this other than I think he’s a great actor, appropriate age for a detective of the time, and I’ve seen him play gritty roles before, and he’s excelled.
As for Heather Graham’s character, give me Hayley Atwell. You gotta beef up this part to remake the movie and an actress who can carry the extra load is required. If you don’t know who this is and don’t know why I picked her then you should be ashamed of yourself. She’s fantastic and should be in more leading roles.
Sir Ian Holm plays an ailing doctor in the film who (SPOILER ALERT) is also a Free Mason and the Ripper. It’s an important role in the film and he does a fine job. This character has to be a bit older since he sees his job as the Ripper as a duty and his need for help due to failing health (SPOILER ALERT) as the Ripper is a team effort. I’m going to go with Brian Cox here. From X-Men to the Bourne franchise he knows how to play a good bad guy.
Two other roles probably need to be mentioned.
Robbie Coltrane as a Sargent that works alongside Depp’s character. A sturdy leveling character. Simon Pegg. He’s been good in everything I’ve seen him in.
And finally Jason Fleming, as John Netley, the ripper’s helper. This dude is needless to say a bit off. He doesn’t talk a ton but looks crazy as a loon. Just for fun let’s say Jason Momoa because he does wild-eyed crazy real good and is an imposing figure.
Well, that’s it. I cannot recommend this movie and if you made it this far in the article good for you. Having said that if you are into thrillers and Jack the Ripper theories then maybe this is for you. As for me, it can go right back to where it came From Hell.