Director David Leitch has teased what to expect from his Netflix movie adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Division video game series. The project was originally announced in 2016, with Jake Gyllenhaal starring. Oscar-winning writer and director Stephen Gaghan (Gold) boarded the film in the months that followed, but was ultimately replaced by Leitch in April 2018. The Deadpool 2 director had already committed to helming Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw by that point, so the idea was that he would direct The Division movie as his followup.
Released by Ubisoft for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, The Division video game follows a Strategic Homeland Division agent as they navigate New York in the aftermath of a virus outbreak that spread via paper money circulated on Black Friday. Netflix officially picked up the movie adaptation earlier this year, with Leitch directing and Gyllenhaal set to share the screen alongside Jessica Chastain (who's similarly been attached for the past three years). Now, Leitch is hinting at his creative vision for the film.
Speaking to Screen Rant on the Hobbs & Shaw press tour, Leitch had the following to say about The Division and his plans for the movie:
"I wouldn't say I'm a massive fan of video games, but there are certain ones that I really do enjoy. In the past, years ago, I used to play Madden quite a bit. So that's been my inroads into video games. The Division itself, I do like the core concept of every man and woman bonding together to figure out how to restart civilization. I like that core concept. I obviously like the action, in terms of the style of the game. It's not unlike the stuff I've done in John Wick, so there's something really cool about that. Or even in Atomic Blonde, like the stairwell scene, I see elements of that in what we could build in the action into The Division. But mainly, it's just the group of people involved in that project that got me really excited. Jake [Gyllenhaal] and Jessica [Chastain] as creatives, Kelly McCormick, my producing partner. And the world of The Division is incredibly cinematic, so the opportunity in there and fertile ground for something cool is kind of undeniable. So it's exciting."
Leitch, for those who aren't familiar, was an uncredited co-director on the first John Wick and has started helming films on his own in the years since that movie became a hit. However, where Leitch delivered multiple set pieces that shattered the laws of physics in Hobbs & Shaw and took advantage of Wade Wilson's incredible healing powers to craft gleefully ridiculous action scenes in Deadpool 2, it sounds like he's going to embrace a more grounded approach on The Division. It makes sense enough, seeing as the original games are (for all intents and purposes) rooted firmly in the real world. He even compares it to the famous extended stairwell battle from his spy film Atomic Blonde, which was comparatively realistic - but still stylized - when it came to its staging and construction.
There's certainly the potential for The Division to be something special, between its premise (which, as Leitch points out, is pretty compelling on its own) and the approach that its director has in mind. There's even been an uptick in the quality of video game adaptations over the last couple years, with movies like Tomb Raider, Rampage, and Detective Pikachu earning far better reviews than the video game films before them - though, considering how low the bar was, that's not saying much. Still, video game movies are improving overall and The Division has the capacity to become one of the best ones yet.
The Division doesn't have a premiere date on Netflix yet.