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David O. Russell bringing “Uncharted” to the big screen

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: “Good” and “mixed” news for video game fans.

A big-screen adaptation of Sony’s “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” is moving forward after months of rumors. Those who play know the “Uncharted” franchise combines the heart-racing adventures of a 1940s serial with a lead hero who is equal parts Han Solo and Indiana Jones. The game receives most of its credit for its groundbreaking, cinematic visuals that put players into the game and really make you feel like you are manipulating your own action movie. So a movie version of “Uncharted isn’t just inevitable … it also is smart.

Here’s the “mixed” bit. Sony announced that David O. Russell – who previously was attached to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” – has been tapped to helm the “Uncharted” adaptation. On the decision, Columbia Pictures Co-President Matt Tolmach said, “David is a tremendous choice to take on this film. He’s equally adept at combining all the classic elements involved in this property: great character development, strong comedy, and amazing action sequences. He has a brilliant vision for this material and we know he will bring his original, unique voice to this adaptation.”

I’m less enthusiastic at this point. Russell hasn’t made an “action” picture since 1999’s “Three Kings,” though that picture does have the same vibe as we might expect out of an “Uncharted” film. However, Russell also has earned a reputation as a volatile director, and having him at the helm could create additional off-screen problems that eventually delay “Uncharted” from opening.

I’m also slightly bummed that they’re beginning the “Uncharted” film franchise with a story lifted from the first video game, which has a much simpler and less interesting adventure story than the superior sequel, “Among Thieves.” Maybe Russell – who’ll also direct – and his crew can figure out a way to combine both video game stories into one spectacular film?

Before he moves on to “Uncharted,” Russell will release “The Fighter” with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, and (perhaps) compete in the on-going Oscar race. More on all of these angles as they develop.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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  • October 16, 2010 | Permalink |

    David O. Russell could be a good choice as director, I loved Three Kings, so I hope they can get the script and casting right, too.
    I would like to see Joe Flanigan (Lt Col John Sheppard from Stargate Atlantis) given the role of Nathan Drake. He has the same looks, body language and humour as the character already, so this would be an easy fit for him. He is also a very talented actor, and can not only play the action hero with easy, but also depicts much deeper emotions with a classy kind of subtlety many actors could only hope to achieve. If given the chance, I believe Joe could really make this film shine.

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I’ve seen a lot of commenters online that would agree with you, that it’d be good to produce one film out of the two games. But I guess they’re looking to get a sequel out of this too.

    I’m sure if what Mr Tolmach claims is true, that David O. Russell’s “equally adept at combining all the classic elements involved in this property: great character development, strong comedy, and amazing action sequences.” then he’d be ideal as being able to keep all these plates spinning in the air is exactly what is required for this film. I suppose if he didn’t believe that he wouldn’t have hired him!

    And aren’t those qualities going to be required of the lead role too? The ability to portray ‘character’ in much the same way as Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, a rugged action hero. This is not a role to be given to a young something, with a face lacking in life’s experiences and muscles looking like they’ve just come out the gym, weight training, thinking that a few tattoos makes them look up to the task! It also needs someone with a flair for comic timing,( ‘strong comedy’) and someone athletic enough to believably take on the stunts, combined with that rare acting ability that with just a look, a word is able to say so much more. Because this is going to be ‘amazing action’ all the way, isn’t it? With little time for dialogue?!

    Yes. They need Harrison Ford again! But there is a younger alternative! And I agree with the first commenter. It’s Joe Flanigan. But to hire him, someone would have to take a chance on a relative ‘unknown’. However, you’re as good as saying that Columbia Pictures are ready to take a chance on David O. Russell? So why not take one on Joe Flanigan too?

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I agree, Flanigan would be an excellent choice. I’ve heard Nathan Fillion of FIREFLY and SERENITY also wants the part. Is he too old? His humor and bravado could work in the role. As for the blending of both game stories, I just don’t want an Uncharted that’s stuck in the jungle. “Uncharted 2” was so cinematic, with outstanding set pieces. I’d want Russell to be able to play with a few of those in his first effort … otherwise a second film might not happen!

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I agree that Joe Flanigan would be great in this role. I thought of him first when I saw the game!

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Joe Flanigan for Drake, witty, heroic all action man, plus hes quite hansome, would make a great Drake

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    It should be Joe Flanigan in my opinion. Hes got the dry humour and likes the action.

    Nathan Fillion is actually younger than Joe Flanigan

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I would love to see Joe Flanigan in this role. I can”t think of anyone who would be more perfect.

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I would like to see Joe Flanigan as Nathan Drake as well!

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Joe Flanigan has also started an online campaign for the role of Nathan Drake and has asked us fans to support him, which we are more than happy to do.
    I think he would be a perfect choice for the role. Not only is there the uncanny physical resemblance between Nathan Drake Joe Flanigan, but he is also very charismatic and athletic, just perfect for the “rugged action hero” with a quirky, witty sense of humor a la Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones.

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I want Joe Flanigan ro play Nathan Drake

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Joe Flanigan is the only actor for the role. If you’ve played Uncharted and seen Stargate Atlantis, you know Drake and Flanigan are the same person.

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    I Like Fillion very much BUT Joe Flanigan is definitively the perfect choice for the role.

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Joe Flanigan is the perfect choice to play Nathan Drake. He is a doppleganger for the character in looks and build. He has the athleticism, machismo and charisma as well as the pedigree to play the action hero with a touch of humor and charm. He would make the role come to life.

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Joe Flanigan for Drake, hands down!!!

  • October 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Joe Flanigan would be perfect! He does light comedy with ease, but can transition to serious with killer instincts smoothly and believeably without breaking a sweat. And, he is so close to the visual one might think the artist had Mr. Flanigan in mind.

    The idea that a big, heavy-weight name for this kind of role is so wrong. There are too many movies using the same dozen guys. They no longer are playing anything but themselves with different names and costars. Boring!

  • October 22, 2010 | Permalink |

    I’d like Joe Flanigan as Drake, as well. He has the talent, versatility, humor, wit, physique, and looks like the character. He is the perfect choice, and he has a big following from Stargate Atlantis. He may be a bit older than Fillion, but he looks younger and is more physically fit. He looks more like the Drake character than Fillion, too. Let’s make it Joe for Drake. I’d go see the movie if it starred Joe Flanigan, not so much if it starred Fillion.

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