So why did Mark Wahlberg turn down The Crow? Could it be because he had another, far less gloomy action fantasy marking his dance card? The answer is yes, with the scoop from MTV that Wahlberg will be playing the trigger-happy Nathan Drake in Uncharted, the movie version of the PS3 game.*
We might actually have guessed, seeing that Uncharted is to be directed by David O. Russell, Wahlberg's three-time collaborator from Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and the upcoming The Fighter. It's still something of a surprise though, since Drake's easygoing flippancy and John McClane-ish what-the-hell-am-I-doing vibe is at odds with Wahlberg's rather intense screen persona.
That's a persona he's been keen to tweak lately though, with his performance in The Other Guys demonstrating the comedy chops he hinted at in Huckabees and, a long time ago, the almost-forgotten bonkers actioner The Big Hit. And he certainly seems keen to fill Drake's pixellated shoes, enthusing that "the idea David has is just insane".
The Uncharted series, for those not familiar, comprises two games so far, in the form of Drake's Fortune and Among Thieves, both of which follow the globe-trotting adventures of Nathan Drake as he searches for lost treasure. The thrust is a bit Indiana Jones, a bit Tomb Raider, and, to be honest, a bit National Treasure, with the added pleasure of extreme violence: the body count on both games can't be far short of four figures.
Lost cities feature heavily (El Dorado the first time, and Shambhala the second), but it sounds as if Russell is following his own path for the film version, which, if he has his way, will feature both Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in supporting roles. "That's who David wants," confirms Wahlberg. "I talked to Pesci about it, and I know David's people have talked to De Niro." De Niro, we'd have thought, would be a good fit for Drake's cohort and mentor Sully, but the plan afoot is apparently that "De Niro will play my father and Pesci is my uncle."
Last time Wahlberg turned out for a videogame adaptation, the result was the less-than-enthusiastically received Max Payne (although the notorious New York critic Armond White maintains that film is up there with the work of Peckinpah, Eisenstein and Bosch). This time however, we can't help but be excited. An action videogame adaptation from David O Russell is as odd a fit as Aronofsky and Wolverine, but "I'm obviously in for whatever David wants to do," says Wahlberg, "and his ideas for this are off the charts [uncharted, then. Haha]. It's not going to be the watered-down version, that's for sure."
Russell seems to be writing his own screenplay, which suggests that the previous attempt by Sahara and Conan scribes Josh Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly has been jettisoned. Shooting is pencilled in for next summer, so expect Uncharted in 2012.
*That sobbing sound is Nathan Fillion crying into his beer.