Tom Clancy games were some of the most popular shooters in the early days of this console generation, back before Call of Duty stormed in and beat everything else from the genre into non-existence. Among the Clancy-approved series were Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and, of course, Splinter Cell. As Sam Fisher, an elite agent of the fictional Third Echelon branch of the NSA, players infiltrated terrorist cells using only stealth tactics and a small kit of advanced gadgetry. In its heyday Splinter Cell was beloved and one of the best-selling franchises out there. The games are still around, but the popularity and quality of Sam Fisher’s more recent missions have waned considerably.
But hat’s not to say that interest has completely dropped off. There’s still enough gas in the tank that Ubisoft Studios is in the process of starting up a Splinter Cell movie, and according to Geek Exchange Ubi has now successfully wrangled The Dark Knight Rises co-star Tom Hardy to play the part of Agent Fisher. This is a huge get for Ubisoft, who also recently announced that Michael Fassbender will star in their Assassin’s Creed adaptation. With both films featuring high-caliber stars they’ll likely draw an audience, but hopefully the show of talent on camera is reflective of the talent behind it; despite the fact that studios have been converting video game properties to the silver screen for over thirty years, there has yet to be one worth watching. Ubisoft’s own Prince of Persia has arguably been the best of them so far, but it wasn’t exactly a critical success either.
Tom Hardy has been one of my favorite actors to watch since I stumbled upon Bronson a year or two ago. Following his somewhat minor role as Eames in Inception his career has taken off (Rubbing shoulders with Christopher Nolan should have that effect), and the English actor has found himself among Hollywood’s elite ever since. The guy just can’t act badly, and he rarely picks a wrong movie. He also grows a fantastic beard.
I wonder about his casting in this though. The last Splinter Cell game I played was 2005’s Chaos Theory, and at least to that point, Sam Fisher was not a particularly nuanced character. He’s a rough and tumble proficient killer which fits Tom Hardy’s repertoire for sure, but Fisher is a middle-aged man with greying hair and a two-years-past-retirement attitude. It will be interesting to see how much of that is retained in the movie, as well as the rest of the series canon. I always prefer a more distant approach – retain the characters and the setting but create a brand new plot. Video games are lacking in those as a rule, and the only thing less exciting than a fetch quest in a video game is a fetch quest on a movie screen. But this is all speculation. As production nears and more details come to light we’ll stay on top of it.