The Division, one of the fastest-growing new video game franchises of all time, will be coming to the big screen with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain in lead roles. Today brings the announcement for the film’s latest addition: director Stephen Gaghan, who most recently helmed Matthew McConaughey in Gold.
While Gold is an okay movie — it’s not truly riveting stuff, but it’s fine — Gaghan was nominated for an Oscar over his original screenplay for Syriana and won the statuette with his adapted screenplay for Traffic. He even has experience writing video games, as he co-wrote the campaign story for Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Coming off of the underwhelming response to Assassin’s Creed, some of us are still holding out hope for the one truly great video game movie adaptation. Where The Division has an advantage is in its open-world storytelling and intricate visuals.
It’s set in New York City after the spread of a smallpox pandemic. Gamers play as members of the Strategic Homeland Division, tasked with rebuilding the organization’s operations in the crime-ridden Manhattan, while investigating the cause of the outbreak and battling hooligans along the way. Given Gaghan’s love of the gaming world and his writing fortitude, perhaps he can turn this property into something groundbreaking for the genre.
The property may also prove to be more easily adaptable given that it’s not like Assassin’s Creed, which is based on a sci-fi concept, but it’s more of a post-apocalyptic story, which is still popular in film. Gyllenhaal and Chastain, by now officially announced for the cast, are also formidable players with their work across Nightcrawler, The Martian, Nocturnal Animals, and Zero Dark Thirty.
Some other video games tapped for movie treatments include Splinter Cell (another Ubisoft title) with star Tom Hardy, and Uncharted with director Shawn Levy — both of which share The Division’s rich imagery and storytelling. Staying optimistic, perhaps these filmmakers can learn from the failings of previous adaptation attempts.