Movies and video games have had a rather rocky relationship over the years, with most games based on movies and movies based on games being considered a poor combination. Deus Ex screenwriter C. Robert Cargill says he’s approaching his movie differently than many game movies have been thought of in the past.
âThe chief philosophy is weâre not making a video game movie, weâre making a cyberpunk movie,â describes Cargill. âWeâve taken a look at whatâs worked in video games and what hasnât, and really what weâve broken down is what we think the audience really wants, [what] the audience that loves Deus Ex is going to want to see out of a Deus Ex movie. And itâs not a rehashing of the game. What they want to see is, they want to see elements of the game that they love, but they want to see things that they hadnât quite seen in the game, that the game didnât allow them to see.â
âSo itâs really allowed us to expand upon the things that happened in the game, and the game has such a great cinematic story to begin with that those elements are very easy to extract. But really, at its core, we just keep telling each other, ‘Weâre not making a video game movie, weâre making a cyberpunk movie.’ And Scott and I are such big cyberpunk fans from way back in the day that that just really charges us up. Because thatâs whatâs so great about Deus Ex to begin with, is it really gets cyberpunk. Eidos Montreal really understood the nature of cyberpunk and made ‘the’ cyberpunk game, and it is just fantastic, and weâve just had a great time adapting it.”
âWeâre trying to break out, and really, the mold for the movies that weâre looking atâ¦ Weâre looking at movies like District 9 and Looper, and Inception,â he added. âThose are the molds of what weâve been doing. Itâsâ¦ Letâs push this and do something new with concepts people love, but tell a story that theyâve never seen before, that just melts their brain. And that is just hyperkinetic and smart and just hits all the right buttons that genre audiences want to see. Thatâs what weâve gunned for. We havenât tried to build it around Johnny Mnemonic or New Rose Hotel…â
âCyberpunk is difficult,â notes Deus Ex director Scott Derrickson. âThereâs a reason we havenât had a great cyberpunk movie yet. Thereâs a reason why a sci-fi movie as great as Neuromancer has never made it to the screen. I do think thereâs a new wave coming, and not just because the technology and the effects are up to speed, but I think that thereâs a sensibility to cyberpunk that the movies are catching up with. Thatâs kind of how we feel. We feel like the science fiction, the reason why we reference Inception, Looper and District 9 was that they were all movies that took certain familiar science fiction methodologies and turned them upside-down and brought a grounded realism to them. Time travel, aliens arriving on Earth, going into the dream worldâ¦ Those are all things that youâve seen a dozen bad versions of, and it dozen decent versions of that. But no one, until those three films, no one had gone into film-making from a grounded, realistic point of view and made something with a fresh aesthetic.”
âAnd I think that there was a little bit of the Blade Runner curse, a little bit of the Matrix curse, where youâve got these movies that touch on cyberpunk elements that arenât really cyberpunk films but they are so iconic, and so insurmountable. Theyâre perfect films in their own ways, [but] no one has been able to break free of that, or no one has broken free of that, and tried to go at it completely fresh. I think that weâre going to see a wave of them, I predict. I think that cyberpunk is going to break out. Thereâs going to be a new kind of science fiction film, and it will be cyberpunk, and it will be amazing.â
The Deus Ex games have been big, incorporating numerous locations, but Derrickson thinks it’s better to have touch-points rather than scene for scene recreations. âThe thing about Deus Ex, the landscape is massive. I mean, it is a big, broad, sprawling game, and look, itâs impossible to get the aesthetic of that game into a single movie,â he said. âSo the key is to take some of the elements of it that are original, and that feel fresh, and that feel like the things that we havenât been looking at for a long time, and use those. What else you need, you invent. You adapt. Thatâs the nature of turning a video game into a movie, is keeping the elements that are iconic and important, [that] advance the game, but also recognizing that if thatâs all you do, youâll just make another bad video game movie.”
While Cargill was apparently very skeptical of the project at first, Derrickson pointed out to him that movies based on comics were mostly bad until relatively recently. âCargill was really skeptical, I remember that. And Cargill said, ‘Oh no, video games movies always suck.’ And I said, ‘So did comic book movies, until they didnât. You know ‘ Iâm a big believer and I think Cargill is now, as well, that video games,â detailed Derrickson. âVideo games and cyberpunk, Iâm hoping that there will be a new wave of both, because thereâs amazing source material for great films there.â