In a world of Chris’, what’s a Jai (Courtney) got to do to make his mark?
Last month’s DC FanDome showcased a number of upcoming DC properties in lieu of a proper Comic-Con, and among the many Batman’s and Snyder cut’s was a peak at the HUGE cast and character list for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.
While there was more than plenty to be excited about with a star-studded cast (Idris Elba! Peter Capaldi! An actual KING SHARK!?) and the return of Margot Robbie’s popular Harley Quinn, the more discernible fan may also note the reprisal of one Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang.
While DC fans will be hoping that these characters will get the proper outing they deserve after the initial poor reception to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016), Jai Courtney himself may similarly also be praying that after a slew of failed big franchise starters in which the Australian starred this may finally be the one he’s been searching oh so long for.
With a filmography consisting of the entirely forgettable A Good Day to Die Hard (2013); the baffling I, Frankenstein (2014); the failed soft reboot of the Terminator with Terminator: Genisys (2015); and DC’s “zany bad-boys” response to Marvel’s superhero monopoly with Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016), it may be fair to say that Jai Courtney has on numerous occasions been on the cusp of action stardom and yet has unfortunately fallen short on each occasion.
Let us take a little wander through and point when you see where things go wrong.
Yippee Ki Yay, Jai Courtney is the New Die Hard
By and large, the Australian actor rose to prominence through various television roles – most notable of which is a recurring role in Spartacus: Blood and Sand – before catching his first big break alongside action superstar Tom Cruise in Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher (2012).
Being in a Tom Cruise gig is sure to catch you attention particularly if you’re clearly built and suited to action roles and sure enough for the 6’1” Australian it did as Bruce Willis and Die Hard came knocking soon after to draft in Jai Courtney to play the son of the late 80’s action icon John McClane.
Imagine if you will the ecstatic scene that must have been when Jai Courtney comes to his agent who promptly tells him that he’s up-front leading with Bruce Willis for a new Die Hard film – one of the most beloved classic action franchises – and that for all intents and purposes A Good Day to Die Hard would also very likely be setting the way for Jai to take the franchise over from Mr Die Hard himself by making him the similarly cavalier all-American cowboy son.
Bruce Willis was getting on a bit to be diving off rooftops and the like after all, and so new young blood was needed.
But like Jeremy Renner and the Bourne franchise before him (and Jeremy Renner and the Mission Impossible franchise), Jai and A Good Day to Die Hard failed to make an impact and so failed was the franchise hand-off experiment.
Though the film performed relatively well at the box-office making back over triple its budget with $304.6 million, the overwhelmingly negative response to the film and its completely forgettable story means any hopes of revitalising the franchise with Jai at the helm appear to be dead in the water.
As for the Die Hard series itself – reports have swung around of a prequel/sequel titled McClane which in itself appears to completely betray the entire point of John McClane and the original Die Hard (1988), but I digress.
Okay Jai, shake-off the last one and get set for the masterclass and mother of sci-fi horror with an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Or well… uh… whatever the hell I, Frankenstein was supposed to be.
Jai Courtney steps in as the gargoyle antagonist to Adam… err Frankenstein(?) who is the film’s equivalent of the novel’s creature except with Aaron Eckhart’s scarred up face and a hoodie and a pair of jeans.
Oh and its 200 years after the original Gothic setting so Franken-Eckhart’s monster hangs out in nightclubs because I guess someone liked Blade.
The film barely made back its $65 million budget and was universally panned with its current Rotten Tomatoes score at 5% making it only slightly better received than the likes of Battlefield Earth and Sandler’s Jack and Jill – both of which sit proudly on a Rotten Tomatoes list of the worst films ever.
Surprisingly, there was no sequel to this one either and so it appears another damp squib for poor old Jai Courtney.
I’ll Be Back… But Maybe for the Last Time This Time
“Okay”, Jai Courtney’s agent says to him as he steps into his office with dried gargoyle makeup on his forehead.
“You’re not the next Die Hard, unfortunately. And Frankenstein was a bust too BUT that YA Divergent series seems to be going well for you, so we’ve got the next big one, Jai.”
“They’re doing TERMINATOR again – like quite literally doing the first one again, but different – and you’re at the front as Michael Biehn’s unforgettable Kyle Reese.”
Yes. Enter Terminator: Genisys – a film as baffling and moronic in conception as its made-up title.
As producer David Ellison labelled it the film was intended neither as a sequel, a remake, nor a reboot per say; instead rather it is a “re-imagining” – an altogether entirely different perfunctory Hollywood buzzword.
Genisys drafts in the same narrative as the original classic The Terminator however now with the complex time-travel wrapped caveat that things have gone slightly different – which in essence amounts to Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor saying the iconic “come with me if you want to live” to Jai Courtney’s Kyle Reese rather than the other way around (filmmaking huh!?!).
In a story that is no doubt looking like an unfortunate partial trend in Courtney’s career, what should on the face of it be a huge film and an excellent opportunity results in yet another derisory critical reception and, though the film made $440 million at the box office making it the second-highest-grossing Terminator film in the series, its overinflated budget and reported marketing costs means the film is estimated to have barely broken even, if at all.
And so again what was initially intended as a full new trilogy and a tie-in TV series burns down in flames again and looked to have effectively killed off the Terminator franchise for good until original creator James Cameron reclaimed the rights and released Terminator: Dark Fate – a film which also attempted to start a new trilogy until its poor performance cancelled those plans too.
Maybe the real story here is to just stop making Terminator films guys!
We’re about 4 films too late as is.
So What Now? We’re Putting Jai Courtney in Some Kind of Suicide Squad?
“Okay, okay”, Jai’s agent says aghast as the Australian towers over him demanding his next non-total-failure role, “Die Hard and Terminator are old films anyway. The kids don’t care about those, we get that now.”
“But listen to this one, Jai – SUPERHEROES!”
“Everyone is loving them right now; but what’s even better than that are fun kooky ANTI-HEROES like DC’s Suicide Squad – especially when they are led by a Hollywood all-star like Will Smith!”
“No way this film could fail.”
And technically it didn’t if we’re talking pure numbers since the film swept more than doubled its production + marketing budget with a gross of $746 million.
After all, you don’t bet against such a star-studded cast and least of all Will Smith who remains as one of the few unique Hollywood superstars whose name alone can often carry a film to a decent return (although Gemini Man’s bombing numbers do, once and for all, give us the answer to ‘is two big Willie’s too much Smith’).
The benefits of having a big high-profile cast and the intense marketing strategy leading to its release meant there was a huge buzz going into the film which resulted in a very successful first week at the box office for Warner Bros.
However negative early opinion of the film’s baffling performances and poor direction spread quickly thereafter resulting in a substantial box office drop by its second week akin to DC’s Batman V Superman, which suffered a similarly poor reception, meaning DC once again had to go back to the drawing board and rethink its plans, or else the comic franchise would lose all audience trust in its ability to produce further productions.
Fortunately one of the bright spots was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn which allowed DC to pivot and focus further on Quinn with Birds of Prey, and shape James Gunn’s new soft reboot of The Suicide Squad around her too.
And of course – how could we forget – more importantly our man Jai Courtney also comes out again to get yet another crack at franchise stardom by reprising Captain Boomerang, one of the other few bright spots to Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
Is This the One For Jai?
Following Suicide Squad it appears things finally took a slight slow down for our Australian action star as for a 4 year period he steps away from the larger blockbuster franchises to focus on smaller more personal roles like Storm Boy, theatre roles and television.
Perhaps a much-needed hiatus if you were to ask Jai himself, or perhaps not.
Nevertheless Courtney now once again finds himself in amongst it however this time early signs are hopeful with the credit that James Gunn has to his name in working out obscure ensemble casts and delivering fun superhero films, and the unbelievably large and exciting cast that The Suicide Squad possesses also holds the film in good stead for now.
Do we think that The Suicide Squad is shaping up to be a worthy competitor to Marvel’s superhero stranglehold?
Or is it potentially another DC flop?
And, more importantly, do we think this is finally the franchise success that Jai Courtney no doubt deserves after all this time!?
Let us know in the comments below.