Levy On How To Adapt “Uncharted” For Film

After languishing for years, the film adaptation of Sony’s celebrated “Uncharted” video game franchise got a kick in the pants when current Spider-Man actor Tom Holland came on board as Nathan Drake.

As a result, the project was retooled and turned into more of an origin story, an interesting approach as it tackles an area that the games hadn’t really touched on before beyond some minor flashbacks in the third and fourth titles which were more when Drake was a kid as opposed to a young adult.

Filmmaker Shawn Levy is attached to helm the project which most recently had a script by director Joe Carnahan, though that was before Holland’s involvement. There’s currently no word on when the movie will go into production, but speaking with Nerdist this week, Levy discussed the cinematic potential he sees in the property:

“For me, it was a fact that the game is awesome; the spirit of the game, with its action set pieces, it’s imaginative setting, and above all, the kind of rogue swagger of Nathan. Those are things that I think make for a great movie.

And, for me, the kind of the big, like the aha moment, if you want to call it that, was I met with Tom Holland and he kind of put it really succinctly and saying, if we do the origin of Drake, that is something that we haven’t seen as the plot of games 1, 2, 3, 4.

We’ve seen a snippet of an origin of Sully and Drake meeting in the past, but here’s maybe an opportunity to do a treasure-hunting action movie with attitude, with a protagonist – and chapter of the protagonist’s life – that you can’t get for free, at home, by just playing the game.

So, we’re trying to kind of take the spirit and the tone and the attitude of the game – and the crazy, visual spectacle of it — but apply it to this Drake chapter that you haven’t seen told. Hopefully, if we can get that right, what you’re doing is: you’re doing right by Uncharted, and you’re also giving an Indiana Jones-type franchise to an audience that didn’t grow up on Indiana Jones.”

Levy also understands that past film adaptations of video games fail to achieve critical and commercial success, and he thinks he has an idea as to why they don’t and how to use the right approach with “Uncharted”:

“Well, for one thing, as I think we’ve all seen as fans – for 15 years at least – straight adaptations of games. I don’t know that any have ever worked. Either they’re bad, or they’re decent but still unsuccessful… I don’t want to just do a live-action version of action sequences we’ve seen in the game; I want action sequences that are equal in audacity but aren’t what you played.

Secondly, I think the only thing you can make sure you do, to differentiate, is a deeper dive into character. So, whether it’s Sully, whether it’s Drake, whether it’s Elena or Chloe, or whoever the characters are – I’m not saying who’s in this movie – I think as a film director, the onus is on me to take a deeper, more nuanced dive into character, because that’s kind of what a movie needs to be truly cinematic. It needs visuals and it needs that nuanced dive in character.”

For now, there’s no release date being targeted by the “Uncharted” film. A new game in the series, the spin-off “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy,” hits game store shelves this week exclusively for the PS4.