Writer Greg Russo is a massive video game fan, and his filmography makes that perfectly clear. As well as penning the script for this week’s impending Mortal Kombat reboot, he also drafted an early version of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, and retains a co-writing credit even after director Johannes Roberts delivered his own take on the screenplay.
If that wasn’t enough, he’s attached to reinvent arcade classic Space Invaders as a big budget alien invasion blockbuster, admitted that he’d love to be the person to make the live-action BioShock movie finally happen, and is set to team up with The Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray to bring Saints Row to the big screen.
The series has sold in excess of thirteen million copies across its four main installments so far, and what originated as a relatively grounded action-orientated experience soon morphed into something else entirely. By the time Saints Row IV rolled around, we’d reached alien invasion territory as the 3rd Street Saints used their high-ranking positions within the U.S. government to help repel the threat of the Zin, and there was even some time travel thrown in for good measure.
Saints Row has hit some crazy heights over the years, but in a new interview, Russo admitted that he’s looking to draw inspiration from a pair of more grounded classics, while still attempting to strike the right tonal balance between both wildly different ends of the console franchise’s spectrum.
“I think from a storytelling perspective, it was two things. The tricky thing with something like Saints Row is gonna be tone, right away. Because if you know the franchise, you know that it basically had two tones. It has more of the gritty tone, which is the first couple, and then it goes kind of bonkers and just absolutely insane. And so, we wanted to make sure that we weren’t isolating either of those. So it’s about just trying to find the tonal balance where you have real characters, real stakes, again, that was part of it with Mortal Kombat, too.
You want it to feel real, you want the characters to feel real, as much as possible. But you also wanna lean into what made it fun, and lean into that craziness. So part of it was trying to figure out that tone, which I think it’s finally gotten into a place where it makes sense. And then it was a matter of, ‘What kind of movie is this? Because how do you take an open-world and tell a story?’. So I looked at different films that I really love. I’m a big fan of ’70s cinema, so I looked at The Warriors, I looked at Escape From New York, just some of those classics.”
It’s a tough task to be sure, but Russo knows his video games, so he’s one of the most qualified scribes in Hollywood to try and pull it off. The project has been in development for a while already, though, so it’ll be interesting to find out how quickly or slowly Saints Row comes together.