Monday, May 30, 2011

Isaiah Mustafa Unleashes his Inner Luke Cage

Though there is a dearth of black superheroes on both the comic page and the silver screen, it’s not for lack of trying on the part of “Black Hollywood.”  A Luke Cage movie has actually been floating around in creative limbo for years.  IMDB lists a screenplay credited to none other than Ben Ramsey.  John Singleton was to helm the project at one point, with Tyrese Gibson slated to play the fabled hero for hire.  Alas, the project doesn’t seem to be any closer to becoming a reality despite all the names that have been attached to it over the years.  

Actor and former NFL practice squad wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa has decided that it’s time rescue Luke Cage from development hell.  Instead of expressing his interest via an interview or some ill-conceived publicity stunt, he’s put together something that actually shows him in action as the title character.  Isaiah Mustafa is LUKE CAGE is a faux trailer that handily tells the hero’s origin story in less than two minutes.  

Luke Cage in the belly of the beast.

As the clip begins, correction officers are shown escorting Luke Cage down a hallway in shackles and a prison issued orange jumpsuit.  Cage is then shown fastened to a medieval looking gurney, writhing in pain as two men in hazmat suits take notes.  He is then shown escaping captivity and making short work of a few unlucky CO’s.  The clip then goes into a few random flashbacks showing Cage in various situations.

The trailer actually looks like an advertisement for a weekly series.  The moment where Luke Cage's eyes glow like high beams as he stares directly into the camera could be the title shot for the opening credits sequence.  The tracking shot that shows him bashing his way through the brick wall is very nicely done.  I also like the film noir ambience of that brief interrogation flashback.  The first half of this clip actually tells a three act story, offering all the necessary info in record time.

Luke Cage unleashed.

My only complaint is Isaiah Mustafa himself.  He has the look of Luke Cage.  He even seems to have the attitude down.  But he is way smaller than I envisioned the cinematic version of Luke Cage to be.  I always pictured Cage as having a rock solid jailhouse physique and being the kind of guy that most folks would avoid tangling with at first glance.  Mustafa has none of that; though one assumes he could easily bulk up in preparation for the role should he ever get it.  Then there are a variety of photographic and lighting techniques that could be used to achieve the desired illusion.

Either way, this trailer will have to do in lieu of an actual Luke Cage film.  Given the conventional wisdom that trailers are often better than the films they advertise, maybe that’s not such a horrible thing.  I cringe at the many ways this adaptation could easily go wrong.  Hollywood will definitely want to infuse it with a modern day “Hip-Hop” sensibility and eschew the Blaxploitation roots of the character.  Isaiah’s vision seems to be solidly organic take, presenting the character as something that could work in any setting or era.  If only the suits in Hollywood were as smart. 

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