The rumour mill has been grinding non-stop with regards to the upcoming movie to be based upon UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune, although this time the man whose words we pick up on are those of the director, David O. Russell himself. Speaking in an interview with LA Times, Russell continues to baffle fans with his apparent plans to adapt Nathan’s story beyond plausible belief.
In my last article for All Things UNCHARTED, you will remember that I questioned Mark Wahlberg’s assertion that Robert De Niro would be playing Drake’s father and Joe Pesci would be portraying his uncle. My belief was that Wahlberg was mistaken in believing that Victor Sullivan (who we all know to be the older friend and partner of Nathan Drake) was in fact Nathan’s dad. It seems that my faith was misplaced; Russell is reportedly expanding the cast of characters to include… yes, Nathan’s extended family. Russell seems to be excited by the idea of introducing the family dynamic, saying;
We’ll have the family dynamic, which we’ve done in a couple of movies now.
One of the stand out features of the UNCHARTED games, for me (Bryony) personally, is Nathan Drake himself. We don’t know from where he comes, nor really how he got where he is today, although the dialogue is littered with hints of his past (“If we get caught they will lock us up and throw away the key! You do know that, don’t you?” “Better than you do.” [Harry and Nate as they approach the entrance to the Turkish Museum] “What did you do to piss him off?” “It was an old job. He was going to dick me over but I beat him to the punch.” [Rika and Nate in the Eye of Indra.]), but nowhere does he talk about any member of his family, in either a good way, or a bad way. (If anyone has any evidence to the contrary I would love to be proven wrong in the comments section.) But the point is, Nathan’s family (other than Sir Francis), according to the games and the stories that we know, is not important to him. Adding such a fundamental aspect to his character (or rather altering such a fundamental aspect to his character) is surely detrimental to the created universe as a whole? The UNCHARTED universe has been created around Nathan; without him it is not UNCHARTED.
Russell also goes on to say,
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.
I have read and re-read this quote many times and it seems that Russell is referring to Nate’s family again here, and assuming that he is, I just don’t understand it. If Nathan’s family were indeed all involved in the same line of work as Nathan, and were indeed a ‘force to be reckoned with’ wouldn’t a) we already have heard about them, and b) they all be in jail by now? What Nathan does is by no stretch of the imagination legal or a remotely legitimate way of studying the past, even if you ignore the hundreds of people he has killed along the way. If there were an entire family up to the same hijinks as our loveable rougueish hero, the world of international art and antiquities would have worked together to make sure they were eliminated. The Drake family would not be dealing with heads of state, or heads of museums, and they certainly would not be “meting out justice.”
In reality there are two layers of antiquities dealing; the legal and the illegal. Broadly speaking the Museums deal in the legal, and the likes of Nathan and his now extended family deal in the illegal. In most circumstances the two, thankfully, do not mix. This is another reason that the UNCHARTED games are so enjoyable; they are escapist fun, and allow you to participate in a semi romanticised illegal world, behind the safety of your PS3 controller. Running through jungles, dodging (and killing) pirates and finding priceless artefacts behind centuries old but miraculously intact gateway mechanisms just isn’t how it is done. As someone who has a degree in archaeology, I can assure you; it is just not that sort of exciting.
You could argue that I am over-reacting to this news, and maybe I am. After all, it is just a movie. But it is a movie that is based upon such a solid foundation that I see no need to tamper with it. I accept that some alterations will need to be made; after all, watching Nathan Drake platform his way through the jungle for an hour or so probably won’t be the most inspiring moments in celluloid history, but the story and the characters are already there. I feel quite strongly about this.
And I am not alone in this. Since reading the interview I have been following fan reaction, and perhaps unsurprisingly I am yet to find any positive responses. Some people seem largely indifferent to the possible news that Wahlberg is Drake (although this is still to be confirmed) but the inclusion of the extra characters seems to be a universally disliked ‘feature.’ It seems that the core fan base is being alienated, which strikes me as a bit short-sighted. But on the bright side, David O. Russell seems very excited about the project.
We would love to hear your views on this latest piece of news; and feel free to disagree with me. Please also note that the views expressed in this article are those of the author and as such do not necessarily reflect those of the other contributors to the site or the site itself. (Editor’s note: It’s ok Bryony, opinions are welcomed 🙂 )