The Grand Theft Auto franchise has always seemed like it had some cinematic aspirations. Sure, there's potential for action and mayhem that would make Michael Bay blush at the sheer excess of it all. But in their character arcs and storylines that pay tribute to genre classics like Scarface, Miami Vice, and Boys In The Hood, you can see that at least someone in Rockstar Games dreams of being in the directors chair.
Fans of the #GTA franchises's hectic action and tight plots have been clamoring for a movie adaption for years, but what many don't know is that Rockstar actually already made a GTA movie...back in 1999.
Watch Rockstar's Official GTA Movie
Back in 1999, Rockstar created a complete live-action short film for the purpose of advertising Grand Theft Auto 2. The film was directed by Alex Rakoff (The Calcium Kid, Dead Man Running) and features English TV actor Scott Maslen as the game's protagonist Claude Speed. New York City stands in for the game's fictional futuristic metropolis of 'Anywhere, USA'.
In the film, Speed pulls off a heist while dodging rival gangsters and police. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out too well for our anti-hero in the end.
Watch the entire GTA2 movie below:
Claude tangles with the various gangs in the game, including the Yakuza and the Hare Krishna (seriously). It looks like he's home free, but he's gunned down (by 'The Cleaner', a Zaibatsu assassin played by Ian McQue) while trying to break into a sports car.
For a promotional short, quite a lot of thought went into the plotting and characters in the film. Unfortunately, most players never got to see the whole movie, as only a small part of it was cut and used as an FMV intro to the game proper. For a time, Rockstar had it available as a free download on their website, but the site that actually hosted the downloads has since shut down.
Here's the version that actually made it into the game:
The game's intro clip was notable and eye-catching for its time and wowed its players, many of whom remained completely unaware of the full length version.
The GTA2 Movie is short and sweet, but it is an indication that Rockstar's creativity could pay off in the cinematic arena.
'GTA 2' Would Actually Make A Pretty Cool Feature Film
On paper, the concept works. A futuristic city controlled by the corrupt Zaibatsu megacorp, secret cults, Yakuza vs Russian mafia, a downtown zone controlled by escaped mental patients. A feature length GTA 2 could actually make a great action-comedy with just a hint of cyberpunk flavor.
Of course, a lot has happened since 1999 and maybe some of the more recent Grand Theft Auto titles would be more appropriate movie fodder. The main plot of GTA V, with Steven Ogg reprising his role as Trevor, would be a thing of beauty. I also think Vice City's '80s glamor would make a fantastic movie setting. It doesn't even have to be focused on a cliche crime story. By delving into GTA mythology like The Ratman, you could even mix in some compelling horror elements.
Video game movies continue to get made and, by and large, continue to disappoint. But one of gaming's most cinematically stylish universes continues to be ignored. 18 years after their first film, maybe Rockstar could give movie-making another try?