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'Drake's Fortune' director David O. Russell: Movie will be about family of thieves and global power players

December 1, 2010 |  9:12 am


Fans of the video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune have been intrigued since the moment David O. Russell committed to direct the film -- if nothing else, it's a chance for a quirky auteur and surehanded filmmaker to shake up the beleaguered videogame-to-movie genre.

They've also been a little hesitant about how quickly this thing will move forward. Russell, after all, has recently worked at a fairly deliberate pace. (He's completed just one movie since "I Heart Huckabees" came out six years ago, the upcoming boxing dramedy "The Fighter.")

But "Drake's" is apparently rolling along. When we talked with Russell for "The Fighter," (more on that one shortly), he said he's already about halfway done with the script, which dovetails nicely with Sony's and fans' hope for a finished movie pretty quickly. "It's a locomotive," he said of the movie's progress.

While the video game centers on Nate Drake (a descendant of Sir Francis Drake) and his quest to find lost treasure on an island far from civilization, Russell plans on expanding the movie to include Drake's extended family -- and put them in fraught, globetrotting situations with some of the world's most influential people.

"This idea really turns me on that there's a family that's a force to be reckoned with in the world of international art and antiquities ... [a family] that deals with heads of state and heads of museums and metes out justice," he said.

Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg, the "Fighter" star who will take on the Nate Drake role in this new film, told 24 Frames that he hasn't read what Russell's written yet but had been told extensively about the idea and believes it's a world away from most video-game adaptations. "To me what a lot of those other movies lack is the level of character and heart," he said. (Wahlberg is, of course, no stranger to video game-based movies, having starred in the less-than-well-received "Max Payne.")

Russell has plenty of experience in the character and dysfunctional-family department, notably chronicling the adventures of an unconventional unit in his 1996 hit "Flirting with Disaster," among other pictures. He sees movies like that influencing him on "Drake's."

"We'll have the family dynamic, which we've done in a couple of movies now," he said. "And then you take that and put it on the bigger, more muscular stage of an international action picture, but also put all the character stuff in it. That's a really cool idea to me."

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: 'Uncharted: Drake's Fortune' video game. Credit: Sony


David O. Russell now back with 'Drake's Fortune'


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So why is he using the Uncharted name? Nothing about this movie idea is like the game, outside of the name Nathan Drake.

If he wants to basically write his own movie, then fine, but why slap the Uncharted moniker on it and risk both ruining the already present intellectual property, and your chances to have a successful movie if it's viewed as just another bad movie-game by a director who didn't understand the source material in the first place?

Either leave the IP's actual background alone or make your own movie. Don't mess with one of the few VERY good stories in gaming just because you think it will appeal to more people. It won’t. It will be utterly average at best.

So, the simple tips are as follows:

1) Sully and Elena. No family.

2) Get rid of Mark Wahlberg. Really. The guys a good actor, I don't doubt that, and I like a lot of his stuff... But hes not Drake. You know the obvious choice here, and I don't care if he’s not got much star appeal in your eyes... The character cast himself before you even sniffed this game.


Will anybody listen to this? Or even know it exists? Not a chance... But this is EXACTLY the reason game to movie transitions always flop... You mess with the actual core stuff that was good in the first place... So for Gods sake actually PLAY the game, get somebody onboard who knows what they are doing and give Captain Tightpants a ring, PRONTO... Otherwise my crystal ball says this will be a totally average film that will only be remembered for urinating in the cornflakes of many an intelligent gamer. Fix the basics and the money will flow.

-Gavin Stevens. Gamer. Games Designer. Person who “GETS IT”.

If you're going to completely change the tone and concept from the video game, why even base it on the franchise? Just make the movie and call it something else. Please don't ruin yet another video game movie.

The more details that have been released about this project the less it sounds like the game. I think this will end up being an adaptation in name only with little to do with the plot of either of the uncharted games.

Aaaaaand Hollywood wonders why game adaptation movies either fail miserably or don't take off at all.

RESPECT THE IP. What a bunch of fools.

No. No this is NOT what Uncharted fans want at all. Nate's family isn't even mentioned at all, other than the ancestor the game is named after. The closest thing to a family that Nate has is his best friend, the father-like Sully. This is an abomination and if Sony proceeds with this idiot without a clue, they will NOT be seeing the money of the majority of Uncharted fans. Do some research, every forum pertaining to the game or games in general is in an uproar about his story ideas and his general lack of any real exposure to the game series, which already has a deeper, more meaningful, and more action packed story than anything Russell has ever spawned. We, the fans, are angry and we see this as Russell destroying everything we've loved about the series. You will also find that the majority of us are campaigning for Nathan Fillion to get the role of Nathan Drake. He's the only well-known actor that comes close to the intelligence, humor, and charisma of the game's namesake. Marky Mark may work for New York/New Jersey mob/cop movies, but he is not funny, has no charisma whatsoever, and is completely wrong for this role.

"When we talked with Russell for "The Fighter," (more on that one shortly), he said he's already about halfway done with the script, which dovetails nicely with Sony's and fans' hope for a finished movie pretty quickly."

No. Our hope is that Sony comes to their senses and starts over with a competent director that will actually take the time to acquaint himself with the source material, seeing as the source material itself could constitute one of the five-best action-adventure films of the past decade.

Please pass this on, or do a story on the uproar this has caused. Without the fans of the game going to the film and passing on their thoughts to non-gamer friends, this film will bomb even worse than Max Payne. At the very least, they can rename this abortion and make a proper Uncharted film when they are ready to take the franchise seriously.

This sounds just awful. Let me get this straight, you take a game about a treasure hunting bad-ass going on a jungle adventure and turn it into a movie about a family of antique's dealers who hob-nob with powerful politico types? I love you David O. Russell, but if you screw this movie up I'll be very displeased.

This is not what fans want! You're taking the essence out of Uncharted by replacing the core elements of what made the game great with ideas that appeal to himself. And not only that but you have other actors are obvious to the role as Nathan Drake, just google it and you've got three names that pop up everywhere! (Two more than the last one it seems)

This is starting to look like a bigger disappointment then when they took the hell out of Doom

i agree with the rest of the comments to this, dropp the uncharted name and star nicholas cage cause this isn't uncharted...

Family dynamic? What family?

There was no "family dynamic" in Uncharted. Just a dude, another dude, two hot chicks and treasure.

Hollywoods stupidity never ceases to amaze me

I hope they don't ruin Uncharted. There's no father and uncle in the games so why add them to the movie? Is this going to be like Resident Evil. based on a game but it goes off in another direction? I don't have much of a problem with how the Resident Evil movies ended up but if they change too much of Uncharted it will just be another movie. The game has three main characters. Those are Nathan, Elena and Sullivan. The movie needs to be about the three of them.

Here is the people you really should complain to... contact naughty dog themselves... they still own the ip... ndi-dog@naughtydog.com

Wow, Really? This is going to fail epically. I agree with all of the commenter's. The story was amazing in the game. There is no family. Just Drake and his friends on an awesome adventure. And don't go making this a spin off plot or prequel to the first game because, as a gamer myself, IT WONT WORK. It never has. If you want to make a new adventure movie go for it. But don't go tying it to something that the gaming community has loved and honoured since it came out and blew us away.

Ugh -- Mark Wahlberg as Drake. Count me out... Have there been any good movies made from video games? This one doesn't sound as if it will be any different, if the casting is any indication...

What a wate of the Uncharted IP. I'm sure David O last played game was E.T for the 2400. I'm aware of his talent as a filmmaker (Three Kings comes to mind), but that isn't enough to adequately portray Drake's adventures on the big screen. Mark W is a terrible casting choice, even if he's in top form and delivers the best acting of his carreer. As a gamer I feel that we are not taken seriously when they change crucial stuff for the sake of the studio (or director) indulgence.


So, why is Mark Wahlberg in this film? Oh because he's in other terrible video game films, gotcha. (I think I was the only person laughing hysterically at Max Payne and pointing out terrible plot holes and edits the entire time...people can be so brainswashed these days) I'd venture to guess that he's also in it because Harrison Ford was unavailable. Sounds like all this script is missing is some Nazis, can't have a decent Indiana Jones rip off flick without some Nazis! Or maybe Nicholas Cage would be up for doing another treasure hunting movie - this time with more family! Maybe they should change the title since it has nothing to do with Uncharted to something better like... Indiana Treasure Hunting Extravaganza sans Nazis :) just a thought.

At least Uwe Boll isn't directing, but this will be another movie that I don't bother to spend my money on, ever...or even waste the space in my Netflix queue.

This just makes me sad. Surely Sony realizes that their best bet is to capitalize on the popularity of the game, not alienate its' fan base?

I would seriously understand if the game did not already have such a solid plot, but it does.

The world has been crying out for a proper Indiana Jones/Romancing The Stone style film for decades, a call that even Spielberg, Lucas and Ford completely ballsed up in their last effort. So, here we are with a video game franchise that offers the perfect hero, the perfect accomplices, the perfect quest and even the ideal last act supernatural element that marked out the best of Indy.

What does Hollywood do? Casts a complete charisma vacuum in the lead (despite Mr. Fillion being so obviously right for this you'd have to be a deaf, dumb, blind lobotomy patient in a coma not to realise), drops the well balanced accomplices, drops the supernatural element and adds completely "family" garbage that is both unnecessary navel gazing and likely to involve DiNero and Pesci chewing up the scenery in the same horribly hammy roles that they've been playing for the past 10 years and ruining their early reputations. And, just for good measure, they completely change the lead character's modus operandi to make him some kind of ridiculous treasure police superhero?

Hollywood can moan, bleat and plead all it likes about piracy now. The cause of the rot in the movies is not due to piracy. It's due to Hollywood being utterly incompetent at translating decent ideas to screen, even when the perfect blockbuster is handed to them already written with perfect characters and with a large fan base. Morons.

First the news about Marky Mark and now this. Uncharted fans want the badass adventure, not the antique road show. I'm pretty sure this movie will go down as just another bad video game movie. This movie either needs to be scrapped or eventually remade into the movie Uncharted fans want. The concept is so simple, how could it be screwed up?!

Sounds like we've got another crappy National Treasure movie with Nicholas Cage on our hands here. Please don't do that. Play the game, work with game writers, directors and do a good job. People put in a huge amount of time and effort into making Uncharted a masterpiece, don't crap all over it just for a quick buck.


Sounds like this guy has his own ideas and want to totally create his own BS stuff and label it with Uncharted. Come on, just stop ruining the idea that worked just because you have the authority to do so. Why not actively involve the whole team that created the movie and come out with some thing which has the same core as the game and move ahead from where the game left. Just from reading this article i am getting the feeling that they are going to mess this one up too.

Especially what i don't like the fact that this guy is taking about the movie like a recipe and saying he will add this ingredient for color and then this ingredient for spice and get the perfect dish made (to dump in our plates). Any director who talks like this has always failed, as IMHO he does not want to look from the perspective of character development or the ground rules of the core idea but to just through bull like "lets add a cool fight scene here, and see if we can add an in air fight scene somewhere" and blah blah. Please think through and discuss with the game developers and do extensive discussions and take notes / votes to finalize ideas and concepts, don't just make your mind just because you did some family concepts before.

Nathan Fillion is Nathan Drake.

Bruce Campbell for Sully.

That's what should happen when they ACTUALLY make an Uncharted film, and not this...bastardized abomination. It'll go down horribly if they keep the name, and the title character's name at that.

I can only say "+1" to everything that has been said above, because there isn't too much to add that hasn't already been said!

Wow, it makes you really hope someone important reads it. Honestly, how often can you get an article and when you come to the comment section - EVERYONE is in agreement. That just doesn't happen on the internet.

Yet, here it does. That says a lot about the decisions been made regarding this movie. I just shake my head at Sony so willing to let one of their best gaming IP's go down the loo. What's next? Maybe God of War, staring Justin Bieber.. y'know, to show his softer, cuddly side.

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