uncharted

After years and years of stops and starts, the Uncharted movie finally took a big leap forward last month when Joe Carnahan announced he’d finished his screenplay. The question now, then, is exactly what he turned in. After all, fans have been waiting forever to see this beloved property hit the big screen. Will Carnahan do the source material justice, or will Uncharted just become the latest victim to the video game curse?

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, it’s at least nice to hear that Carnahan is saying all the right things. In an interview, he described his Uncharted script as an R-rated affair with “four of the biggest, f***in’ craziest action sequences” of his career. Go on… 

Carnahan revealed to Coming Soon that his Uncharted screenplay was written as an R-rated project that would embrace, not smooth over, the game’s rough edges.

When I wrote Uncharted, I didn’t spare the rod. I wrote it the way the video game is. They swear in the game, they’re kinda foul-mouthed and I kept all that stuff intact and I definitely didn’t write it as a PG-13 movie, I wrote it the way that movie should be written. […] Listen, man, those were the movies we were into, Predator… those were all R-rated films. The Matrix movies were all R-rated. I never understood the metric for, “This will make X-amount more if it were PG-13.” PG-13 in a lot of ways is a cop out, and I think it’s been exposed as such.

In the past, Carnahan has made it clear that he’s not interested in a slavishly faithful adaptation. Instead, he told Coming Soon, he was allowed free rein to dream up some really wild stuff:

No, they let me kinda do my thing. I probably wrote four of the biggest, f***in’ craziest action sequences I think I’ve ever written in that movie. I used the “Uncharted” games as a template but not using any one specifically, because those sequences have already been done beautifully. There’s no point in just transposing them to film, you’ve gotta come up with new sh*t, so that’s what I did. It was a great challenge but it was a lot of fun.

So far, so good — but this is the kind of stuff writers say all the time about their scripts. No one ever says “oh, we really held ourselves back and made sure the action sequences were very modest and familiar.” Where things get really interesting is when Carnahan starts talking about what he believes distinguishes Drake from characters like Indiana Jones.

Listen, I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan, which was one of my interests in it and you have to remember you’ve got Sully as well, so it’s more of a buddy situation than just Drake solo. You have this kind of Hope & Crosby, Road to Morocco kind of thing, so it’s not a straight Indy lift. Drake is not a guy who likes museums. He thinks they’re all crooked. Curators are “thieves,” the guys in the Louvre and The Met are thieves and despicable. He’s a treasure hunter, not an archaeologist. He doesn’t have Indiana Jones’ idea of pure faith in archaeology. That’s not the way he thinks. It differentiates, and in the script there are deliberate differentiations. He has a line where he says, “They’re gonna be looking at real booby traps, not rolling boulder bullsh*t.” (laughs) [Raiders of the Lost Ark] is still arguably my favorite movie of all time, but it was necessary to create those distinctions. I think Amy Hennig did it when she wrote the game. She made Drake very much an anti-Indiana Jones, you know? Don’t forget, for that first game after that pirate attack, Drake and Sully leave Elena behind, they dump her. Indiana Jones would never do something like that. That’s a rogue act, so she was declaring very early on who that guy was. He was not Jones, he was not to be confused with that guy.

On a superficial level, it’s easy enough to see why Drake is frequently compared to Indiana Jones. That’s probably part of the appeal of Uncharted for both studios and moviegoers — even audiences who don’t play the games will be familiar with the “swashbuckling modern adventurer” archetype. But we don’t really need an Indiana Jones retread (especially when there’s an actual Indiana Jones movie coming in two years), so it’s nice to hear Carnahan’s thought a lot about what makes Drake special.

As great as this all sounds, though, we should point out it’s very early days yet for the Uncharted movie. The script will surely go through more revisions before cameras roll with director Shawn Levy. And if you’ve been following our coverage of this project over the years, you already know it’s been in development so long it basically seems cursed. In other words, yes, let yourself get excited — but keep in mind that we’ve still got a long road before we’re actually sitting down in theaters to watch the movie.

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