In life there are three immutable laws: Death, taxes, and apparently the impossibility of make a decent movie based on a video game.
There may be some which are enjoyable (or likable, or charming, or whatever other positive description you wanna’ give them (for me an example is the first Resident Evil), but in terms of quality, they just aren’t any good. Hopefully that can be remedied at some point in the future… perhaps with the BioShock or possible Metal Gear Solid movies, but at this point in time there are no live-action video game movies (there are a couple of animated ones that are decent, notably Street Fighter II) that could be considered “quality stuff.”
Need examples, do you? OK, try this partial list out for size: Doom, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Silent Hill, Hitman, Bloodrayne, Max Payne…. I could go on and on…
However, even in the face of this, studios seem hell-bent on making more of them. The latest is a live-action adaptation of The Wheelman, which is set to star Vin Diesel and be directed by John Singleton. The game was just launched last month, and it also features the likeness, voice and producing force of Diesel himself. It’s extremely basic storyline is of an experienced getaway driver who comes out of retirement to help a woman from his past.
Oh the complexities that could be driven from that plot…
Diesel had already bailed on the Fast and the Furious series after the first and before Singleton came on-board for the second (although he didn’t direct the third or fourth, but Diesel had a cameo in the third and was recently in the fourth… confused?). Maybe the two of them will come together to make the fast car movie they could’ve done before…
Well, maybe not…
The script for the film was originally written by Rich Wilkes (who wrote xXx), but has been rewritten by writing team Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell. It will be produced by Diesel himself (as he did with the game) along with Lorenzo di Benaventura. The studio developing/releasing the project will be Paramount Pictures.
This was a project that was supposed to have gotten going back in 2006. The original plan was to make the movie and the game at about the same time, and then release the two of them in close proximity to one another (which may have stopped it being another one of those games-based-on-movies that are rushed just for the sake of getting it out there quickly). Sumner Redstone (the big honcho who owns Paramount and game company Midway) then sold 87% of his stake in Midway (the company which made the Wheelman game) and so it went to Ubisoft.
So here we are, three years later….
Until the third law is broken, all video game movies in production will be presumed to be bad, and The Wheelman is certainly included. It’s not a game I’ve played (I haven’t had a chance yet since it only came out last month) but by the sounds of it, it’s just a thin storyline that’s there simply to serve gameplay… and that usually is the thing which results in movies based off of these games being awful.
I welcome with open arms a video game based movie which ends up being defined as “great,” but as it stands at the moment the odds are not good.
What do you think of a live-action movie of The Wheelman? Have you played the game, and if so do you think it could make a decent movie?