So, it’s no secret that Ubisoft have a movie in the works based on The Division. Given the arguable travesty that Assassin’s Creed was, people are dubious. I completely understand why. I saw Assassin’s Creed (and you can read the review here), it sucked. They took a mediocre concept and bastardised it in the movie.
The Division has an incredibly strong story concept that isn’t executed overly well in the game. Sure the story is there and it’s cool but the story is very much in the peripherals. You’re more often than not too swarmed with bullet-sponges to pay much attention. It’s a damned shame. The story is still intriguing though, especially with regards to Keener, and it leaves it open to a potential sequel.
Prior to The Division’s release, there were a couple of live action shorts titled Agent Origins. These shorts introduced the concepts of the movie and the factions involved, not to mention the mysterious Division agents. The videos feature four agents as they are activated inside New York City along with Directive 51.
The longest of these shorts, titled Escape, is roughly 10 mins long. It features four agents fighting a group of Rikers who have taken a collection of hostages. It’s an intense scene with some fantastic action sequences. It’s a beautifully well shot scene, the kind of style that the Assassin’s Creed movie should have used but didn’t. All four of the short films are shot incredibly well, building the world perfectly. They balance action and story in just the right way to make it compelling and meaningful.
All four of the videos can be watched in sequence to create a simple but powerful story of the 4 agents and how they group up to help bring law and order back to NYC. Doing so takes about half an hour and when I’d finished I was dying to see more. The ending seems to hint towards an event that occurs in game so the two could be linked together very easily indeed.
These short films show that Ubisoft is quite capable of doing this story justice. But the fear remains that they will undoubtedly fuck it up. There is some serious potential here, but they might take it in the totally wrong direction. At the end of the day, as much as you spend your time battling the enemy factions, you’re ultimately trying to develop a vaccine for the Dollar Flu.
The fear is that if/when the movie gets made, it’ll be about the fighting against the Cleaners, the Rikers, or the LMB and rogue agents. Rather than focusing on the plight of the city, the search for the vaccine and the total breakdown of society. Conversely though they may focus too heavily on that and you end up with a World War Z-esque movie. That one fell a bit flat too, so lets hope it doesn’t happen here.
I’m not saying don’t throw in the bad guys, The Division is about action as much as it’s about finding a way to cure the Dollar Flu. Just don’t make them the focus of the story. Joe Ferro as head of the Cleaners would make an excellent villain. He’s got the same end goal in mind as the Agents, he wants to stop the bug too. He just wants to do it by burning the virus out of the city. Burning the infected is the completely wrong thing to do, but we’re not exactly looking for total realism.
The Division bases it’s story off of the events of Operation Darkwinter. The real-life simulation of what would happen if a biological weapon was released on US soil. I’ve read the case study and it’s an incredible piece of work. The Division adapts it incredibly well into the game, but it’s no wonder they don’t stay completely true to life though as it would make a reasonably dull game. So the addition of the SHD tech is great, I want ISAC as my AI companion (it’s a fight between him, Cortana and Jarvis). You can’t keep things 100% realistic but that’s by no means a bad thing.
What this all comes down to though, is that there’s alot of potential for the movie to be great. They’ve shown that with the Agent Origins short films. Adapting and extending them to become feature length would be the ideal thing to do. They work brilliantly at building the world and showing how to turn that into an action movie with a powerful story. Hopefully they build on these rather than making something new from the ground up.
We all know that video game movies don’t tend to work, okay…none of them have worked. But there’s a first time for everything. We could be surprised. Assassin’s Creed could have been awesome if they’d have executed it better. The reason video game movies often don’t work is because they try and condense a whole bunch of character development and story into a short space of time. It doesn’t work. The Division doesn’t have that though. Sure there are characters that are present throughout but they don’t change much. They don’t need to. They have the foundations for something amazing, detailed by the shorts, please don’t fuck this up, Ubisoft.