Representation and diversity have become major hot button issues in the film industry, as there's an overriding belief that showing a marginalized group in a wrong or misguided way can ultimately prove detrimental in the long run. It's an issue that has bogged down plenty of movies over the years, and Liam Neeson's upcoming crime thriller Hard Powder has become the latest victim. In fact, we've just learned that Hard Powder was recently denied access to shoot in the Rocky Mountain parks because of its depiction of Canada's indigenous people.
A CBC News report indicates that the Taken star's upcoming Canadian-based action thriller Hard Powder has officially run into some serious controversy. It appears that the Canadian parks service has officially denied the film's crew access to the parks for production, because of the script's description of the First Nations (the predominant native people of Canada) in the script.
The film centers on a snow plow driver (Neeson), whose son is murdered by a First Nations crime boss and his gang of thugs -- which subsequently leads to a one man war against the criminal organization. As a result of this seemingly offensive depiction of an indigenous group of people, the production now has to look for another location to stand in for the Canadian wilderness.
This is a tough issue to get a proper read on because it sounds like the film was denied access solely because the villain of the story happens to be a First Nations crime boss. We don't really know much about how these people will be depicted, aside from their criminal nature. Statistically speaking, the Aboriginal population of Canada has fallen on hard times, and the Canadian criminal justice hasn't been particularly kind to them. With that in mind, the intention of the parks service seems to be a desire to prevent any reinforcement of existing stereotypes -- regardless of how the script portrays the crime boss in the film. After all, the optics aren't exactly phenomenal on a story centering on a white hero facing off against an Aboriginal criminal organization.
As of right now, Liam Neeson himself has yet to speak out regarding the controversy associated with Hard Powder. That said, Tom Jackson, the actor cast to portray the First Nations crime boss in the film, has specifically come out against the decision- and he has vocally supported the creative direction of the project. As a member of the First Nations, he has publicly stated that he doesn't find the material in the project's script offensive -- although his support for the film doesn't seem to have changed the decision.
We will bring you more information related to Hard Powder (and the ensuing blowback against the project) as more details become available to us. Let us know what you think of this story in the comments section below.