If there are two words you would never expect to see paired in a sentence, “Schwarzenegger” and “subtle” are probably them. The Terminator actor is again playing a killer robot in this summer’s Terminator Genisys, and the star has made his name playing ridiculously jacked badasses in popcorn pieces like True Lies, Last Action Hero and Conan the Barbarian. However, the above association has presented itself today, with Schwarzenegger signing on for a “dark” and “subtle” revenge pic titled 478.
The actor plays a man whose wife and child perish in a plane crash caused by an air traffic controller’s amateurish screw-up. Though widely condemned by the community, the controller is still living his life, which doesn’t sit well with Schwarzenegger’s grieving family man. Determined to make the poor sap pay for his mistake, the family man takes on the protective officers tasked with guarding his target and gets closer and closer to the revenge he so seeks.
Though that sounds like the set-up for a rough-and-tumble Arnie actioner with explosions and one-liners galore, 478 is apparently trying to be something more character-driven, like Schwarzenegger’s above-average zombie pic Maggie. Javier Gullon, the scribe behind Denis Villeneuve’s maddening/mesmerizing psychological thriller Enemy, penned the screenplay here, which is certainly going to improve chances of the filmmakers following through on actually making this something special.
Still, Schwarzenegger is renowned for his cheesy action-hero roles, so it’s going to be an uphill battle for 478 to present him as something else. Maggie was definitely a terrific vehicle for the actor’s chops, but very few people saw it, and the film did get away from him in the end. Though it’s admirable that the actor wants to expand his filmography with some legitimately good, not just amusing movies, it might be a stretch to buy him in a highly dramatic role like this.
Then again, Schwarzenegger has been around for decades precisely because he knows how to please a crowd, so perhaps this could be the start of a second career wing for the actor, with him following in the footsteps of other actors who turned their image around, from Matthew McConaughey to Ben Affleck.