Guest Review – Canceled Gambit Project

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An excerpt from SK’s script review for Gambit – Fox’s Cancelled X-Men Spinoff which will be available 02/27/2020:

Plot: In 1984, disgraced mutant thief Remy Lebeau (aka Gambit) returns home to New Orleans to pull off a tricky heist for a mysterious benefactor.

Background: Gambit was one of a handful of X-Men related projects that Fox announced not long after the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, with Channing Tatum attached to star. It went through at least three directors, several writers, and many, many delays, before finally getting put out of its misery by Disney after their purchase of Fox finally went through in 2019. This draft specifically is one of the earlier iterations, headed up by director Rupert Wyatt, who would eventually pull out, and years later cited the reason as Fox getting cold feet over the budget after the Fantastic Four reboot flopped.

So, with that out of the way, let’s go over some of the script’s major points.

Positives:

-Right off the bat, I’ll admit to not really knowing Gambit all that well, aside from him being the southern accented guy who throws playing cards at people. That being said, I find the character as presented here to be a very strong lead for a movie like this. He’s full of cocky charm, and is just a fun, entertaining character all around. His relationships with his foster siblings and his love interest (more on her later) also imbue the character with a decent amount of heart to go along with the humor.

-The script isn’t trying to be the biggest, most epic story with the highest stakes. It’s very much a heist movie at heart, with Gambit gathering a ragtag group of human and mutant criminals to pull off the job. This helps set it apart from the mainline X-Men films in a fun way, much like the raunchy humor did for Deadpool and the more serious, grounded approach did for Logan. That’s one of the more interesting things Fox was doing with its stable of films, and it’s a shame that this one fell by the wayside, as the heist movie approach is pretty cool.

-The mutant powers of the various characters are implemented pretty well throughout the script. Multiple different instances of psychic abilities are put to good use, Jamie Madrox aka Multiple Man pulls off a very cool stunt during the main heist, and at one point Gambit fights a trio of teleporting mutants through multiple rooms of a plantation house. My favorite comes near the end, where Gambit is using his ability to energize objects in the middle of a massive brawl, throwing anything he can gets his hands on at the opposition. It makes for a very cool sounding action set piece.

-The love story between Gambit and Bella Boudreaux is one of the better examples of a romantic subplot in this sort of film. They’re given enough common ground for their being drawn together to make sense, have a fair amount of strong dialogue together, and the conflict that arises is reasonably motivated and resolved very well towards the end.

-The heist itself is very cool. Gambit plans everything out to the last detail, including setting up at least one false trail as a diversion. Of course, things don’t always go to plan, forcing a but of improvisation to keep up with changing circumstances. There are plenty of twists and turns during this sequence as well, as well as dramatic character turns and a fair amount of suspense, before ending up in a cool action sequence.

-Since everyone loved to nitpick X-Men movie continuity while that series was a thing, I would be remiss not to talk about it here. This script actually has a clear place within the X-Men timeline, with the bulk of it set in the aftermath of the wide scale destruction caused by Magneto in X-Men: Apocalypse. This actually serves to make that movie a little better, as it gives its events a sense of weight and consequence that it lacks when taken on its own. There’s also a quick reference to the events of Days of Future Past during a scene set in the 1970s, as well as a brief tie-in to The Wolverine, but that last one doesn’t really add up.

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