When releasing a new title in a blockbuster game franchise, using a simple commercial to advertise it seems so… parochial. Why limit the cinematic experience to a mere few minutes when you can produce a Hollywood-caliber, 25-minute film that draws on the franchise’s history while setting the scene for the new game’s narrative thread?
For the release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Ubisoft teamed up with production company Little Minx and Academy Award-winning directors Hervé & Francois to create a live-action prequel film, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Alpha.
Part commercial, part high-tension action-espionage flick, Alpha follows elite U.S. Army team the Ghosts as they are dropped behind enemy lines in Russia with a mission to off some pretty hardcore baddies. But this being a setup for the game’s release and all, things don’t go according to plan. A nuke, some badass killer drones and a bullet hailstorm wreak havoc on the elite squadron’s well-laid plan, leaving the storyline open for some in-game resolution.
Visually, Alpha delivers the goods, with Little Minx and producer Rhea Scott bringing in a who’s who of talent. In addition to directors Hervé & Francois, who won an Oscar in 2010 for Logorama, the script was written by Tim Sexton (Children of Men), and longtime David Fincher collaborator Gregory Pruss. The film was shot by District 9 cinematographer Trent Opaloch; and edited by Pietro Scalia, two-time Academy Award winner for Black Hawk Down and JFK. The film was shot in Ostrava, Czech Republic amid an otherworldly industrial complex of blast furnaces, which is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and former Navy Seal and weapons expert Harry Humphries was brought in to train the actors on how to ably handle real weapons such the FNP 90, PX4 9mm handgun, and a modified AK-47.
While this film is part of a larger trend of extending game worlds into other forms of media, the scope of the live-action production is unlike anything that’s been seen off the big screen. Yet where many theatrical adaptations of game titles flop in spectacular fashion, the close connection to the gameplay narrative, and relatively shorter 25 minutes make Alpha a riveting film to watch on its own, and an epic tease for those waiting with baited breath for the game.