Joe Carnahan is an unexpected and welcome choice to write a movie based on the popular video game series Uncharted. Carnahan has an abrasive, aggressive tone in his writing that has given his films Narc, Smokin’ Aces, The A-Team, The Grey, and Stretch a welcome and unforgettable edge. While Sony is clearly looking for something that will appeal to a broad audience with what could be a tentpole franchise, the fact that they’re willing to trust Carnahan with the script says that they’re not just trying to make an Indiana Jones clone. If anything, Carnahan is acutely aware of trying to make Uncharted stand on its own.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Uncharted games, they follow adventurer Nathan Drake, a descendant of the privateer Sir Francis Drake [correction: he begins the game series believing he’s Drake’s descendant], who, with the help of his friend Sully, goes in search of lost cities and treasures.
Steve Weintraub recently spoke to Carnahan, and he talked about working with director Shawn Levy to capture a tone that evokes Raiders of the Lost Ark but also has a very anti-Indiana Jones feel with its protagonist’s personality:
JOE CARNAHAN: I can tell you that Shawn Levy and I sat down last weekend, he has fantastic knowledge. Here’s the thing, Shawn is an incredibly bright, incredibly skilled, talented guy, and you sit with him for five minutes and you know and understand why he has the level of success he’s had. I think he understands, we both have tremendous fondness for Raiders, and he wants to, I think Shawn’s capable of doing a lot of things. I can tell you this: what I’ve written is very anti-Indy in the sense of the guy that loves museums and wants to preserve these artifacts. He’s not! He’s a thief and he’s a grifter, and he’s a scourge. He and Sully are not good guys but they’re better than the bad guys. It’s a game, you know, they’re certainly rogues, and certainly don’t have a problem, even in the first game he just kind of dump Elena and it’s interesting. I think it’s gonna be, I honestly think this one’s got a real shot. And I was really glad when Shawn came on because I’m too deep into Bad Boys and I really wanna see that through. Too much sweat equity in that one; years of trying to do Uncharted. I’m flattered that these guys wanted me to write it. It’s a hell of a responsibility and hell of an opportunity and I don’t want to squander it now.