David O’Russell Leaves “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” Film

by Stefano Terry

Variety reports that Oscar nominated director David O’Russell has left helming the “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” film due to “creative differences.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m fricking ecstatic about this news. I’ve never seen “The Fighter,” and I have no doubts that it was a good film. I also really loved “Three Kings,” but I personally don’t think O’Russell was going down the proper path for an Uncharted film.

I understand that gamers would like a movie based off of one of their favorite gaming franchises to truly represent how quality a game’s world, characters, and story could be, but come on, guys, Uncharted ain’t that franchise. It’s a popcorn game with fun characters, an over the top story borrowing heavily from pulp adventure icons like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.

What O’Russell wanted to do was markedly different from the goals and objectives of the Uncharted franchise as a whole. I don’t care how talented of a director you are, if you completely miss the point of the subject you are bringing to the screen.

If you want to do a gripping film about a family of “treasure keepers” trying to protect ancient secrets from the mob, then don’t call it “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.”

Now that O’Russell has departed, people are wondering if front-runner for series protagonist Nathan Drake, Mark Wahlberg, will be leaving as well. Odds are; yes, he’ll probably be stepping down, as well as Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, who were also attached to the project.

This has brought the debate to who should step in to play the key roles of Drake, his friend and mentor, Sully, and his love interest, Elena. Uncharted fans are keen on Castle and Firefly star, Nathan Fillion. I fall in that camp as well. Anyone who has watched the show Firefly has seen more than a passing resemblance to Fillion’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds to Naughty Dog’s Nathan Drake.

Some would like to argue star power is necessary for a big budget film like “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.” I disagree. I don’t think it’s necessary for such a thing when the license is strong, as Uncharted clearly is. Look at Bryan Singer’s “X-Men.” Despite Patrick Stewart’s role as Professor X, the bulk of the cast, and the film, rested on more than just a few unknown actors and actresses, and cast the main role in the film, Wolverine, to then unknown Hugh Jackman. The film was a resounding success, and was one of the films that pushed the “superhero film boom” we now enjoy.

Keanu Reeves. Lawrence Fishburne. Two actors with very low profiles, with Fishburne coming off of critical and commercial “bomb” “Event Horizon (I actually really loved that film, but not until a few more viewings). Yet “The Matrix” is considered one of the best sci fi movies of all times (despite mediocre sequels).

Tobey Macguire. Wilem Dafoe. Hardly the most popular actors at the time in mainstream circles, and yet “Spider-Man” grossed over $800 million world wide. “Silent Hill” is, arguably, one of the better video game to film adaptations, and it was successful in the box office despite having a non-mainstream cast.

A rock solid script, and actors right for the part will make “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” a hit movie. O’Russell’s profile has certainly skyrocketed since “The Fighter,” but that profile doesn’t guarantee a hit movie. Hollywood has become too obsessed with “faces” to sell movies, when movie-goers just want to see a good film, damned if it stars Tom Cruise or Will Smith.

I’d like to see Fillion play Nathan Drake. I’d like to see Emily Rose play Elena Fischer. I actually don’t mind DeNiro as Victor Sullivan (although Harrison Ford would be a brilliant choice, as Sully is often hinted at as having adventurous exploits in his youth before becoming father figure/mentor to Drake).

Uncharted fans want a good Uncharted film, not necessarily a deep, complex drama or vast departure from the themes that make the franchise appealing in the first place. Would “Raiders of the Lost Ark” have been the same if Indiana was a secret agent working for the pentagon and tasked with recovering nuclear warheads? Nathan Drake isn’t a “treasure keeper.” His familial ties are still a closely guarded secret, but I doubt it turns out the family line was tasked with protecting “national treasures.”

I’m glad O’Russell has stepped down, and now my hope is that Sony will pair the franchise up with a director that respects the source material, and can craft a decent movie. If only Stephen Sommers hadn’t blown his load with the first Mummy movie…


2 Responses to “David O’Russell Leaves “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” Film”

  1. oner001 Says:

    Thankfully O’Russel is out & hopefully Mark Wahlberg. If they choose Nathan Fillion I can deal with that, DiNero…I’m not too sure of as that really depends on how much of a role he will actually play. Personally I would love Nolan North as to me he the perfect Drake since not only is he modeled after him but that he is the voice that we all know as him ~ his inflections, quirkiness and wit are all Nolan.

    Yes Nolan needs to step it up a bit and work out, lose a little weight and be more fit for the part…but that is not very difficult as his stature and general physique is not outside of what would be possible for the part ( it really wouldn’t take much with Hollywood hair, makeup & a fitness trainer to get him to pull it of). Then you toss in Emily Rose (as you said) who is actually Elena & Richard McGonagle who is actually Sully and then FINALLY…just MAYBE…we can have a properly made video game movie at last for all to be happy with!

    I basically have said all of this over @ N4G but I honestly think it would be refreshing to have ALL the main voice actors play their characters in a great storied, fairly funded CORE movie. If that was to ever happen then we (as gamers) would probably have the first ever video game to silver screen movie that that would ACTUALLY be good.

    I really believe the voices with the faces would be key, and something different (in terms of not being Hollywood blockbuster actors who would cheese it up) but yet familiar (specifically) because of their voices. Now if they don’t go with a story that kinda falls inline with the games then they could go with whomever mainly Nathan Fillion but even Hugh Jackman (to an extent) though someone like Mark Wahlberg (and even Hugh possibly) would have the potential to mess up the role and bring the whole movie down with it.

  2. oner001 Says:

    Damn I need an edit button to fix punctuation, typo’s & spelling errors.

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