Having been exposed to so many condemntations of it as a bad film, my expectations were close to zero. It also helped that I watched the VHS Dude’s video review of the film; its snippets and spoilers afforded me a glimpse of scenes that didn’t work too well. I was, in this regard, able to “prepare” for those scenes.
In addition, silly melodramatic stylized action is something I’ve long since gotten used to since more than a decade ago, when I spent so much time in the world of John Woo’s so-called “heroic bloodshed” films.
Woo is undoubtedly influenced by Peckinpah, but what happened here is a reversal: instead of appreciating Woo as a Peckinpah disciple, I went back to Peckinpah from Woo. The even more outlandish plot elements of Woo’s films made me more forgiving of Peckinpah’s own excesses.
So I kept trying to imagine a recasting, but that was hard. I was having less trouble entertaining fantasies of a remake being John Woo’s back-to-the-heyday film project, one that will finally allow film critics to forgive him for his work after Face/Off.
Strangely, though I remember reading the Robert Ludlum novel more than once, I can’t dredge up even a single memory of it that could help me spot the differences between the film adaptation and its source material.