When released in 1999, Grand Theft Auto 2 featured an opening cutscene with various live-action scenes intended to illustrate the nature of the game. The cutscene was pieced together using footage taken from an eight-minute, unnamed short film (henceforth referred unofficially as GTA 2: The Movie) created for the purpose of advertising the game.
The film is notable for being the only official material by DMA Design (now Rockstar North) to be shot entirely in live-action, but lacks any form of dialog between characters. It also implies the game's playable protagonist, thought to be depicted in the film, to be named Claude Speed. Some of the film's scenes are also integrated into the game's menus.
The film has since been made available to the public and is downloadable from Rockstar's website in the form of 8-part Quicktime files or a single RealVideo file. The film also was available on the Moving Shadow 99.1 mix CD. The game's opening cutscene, which features portions of the film in superior quality, is available in the game's folder in the form of a Bink (.bik) file.
"Pursuit and escape"
The film opens with overhead scenes of a city as police chatter is heard, revealing that criminal has evaded them. It then cuts to Claude Speed striding on the streets, only to be chased by a group of armed gang members (implied to be Rednecks, based on their choice of baseball caps and plaid shirts; one of them is wielding a chainsaw). Looking to escape, Claude carjacks a parked van, throwing its occupant out and driving the vehicle away, shaking off his pursuers.
"The Assassin is activated"
While in the van, Claude, to his joy, discovers boxes of Zaibatsu Corporation drug shipments inside. With his newly discovered loot, Claude stops to break into a black sedan, load a few of the boxes into its trunk, and takes off in the stolen car, abandoning the van. However, Claude's act has been reported by the driver of the van to the Zaibatsu, and an informant depicted as a homeless person updates the Zaibatsu on Claude's whereabouts and change of vehicle. The Zaibatsu Corporation promptly obtains a record of Claude, and dispatches an assassin (who doubles as a janitor in the company) to kill Claude.
Meanwhile, Claude discovers a police car tailing him, resulting in a chase that lasts for a period of time. After the police car spins out of control, allowing Claude to escape, Claude seeks refuge in a paint shop, where his car is resprayed with a white body color. This allows him to slip through police detection, and continue to go about his business.
"Meet the boss"
Claude arrives at a hideout for a group of Russians at a harbor, demanding that they help him kill a member of the Rednecks. As the Russian mob boss is about to turn him away, Claude produces two packets of the Zaibatsu drugs to the boss. To the boss' approval, the deal is sealed. As Claude heads to his next destination, he decides to consume some of the drugs himself, with less-than-desirable results...
"Basement and baseball"
Still under the influence of the drugs, Claude makes another stop, this time an underground Yakuza haunt, where an unknown individual is in the process of being tortured with baseball bats. With two boxes of Zaibatsu drugs to show, Claude is asked by a Yakuza boss to help locate and rescue a fellow associate, in exchange for a monetary reward. Claude complies and leaves, as the tortured prisoner is bludgeoned in the head with a hammer by the boss.
"Shoot him when he's down"
With the Yakuza boss' order in mind, Claude locates a step van stopping at an intersection, exits his car and guns down the driver, shooting him three times and spitting on him. Claude then proceeds to open the van's cargo hold, revealing a group of people dressed as monks, presumably meant to represent the Hare Krishna gang. Claude finds his man, and returns him to safety, where Yakuza members greet him with open arms. Claude leaves to prepare for his next job as night approaches.
Using the step van acquired in his last mission, Claude arrives at a storefront to pick up the Russians, as promised. They are heading to a bar where Elvis is performing a gig; the bar scene reveals Redneck members with Yakuza members celebrating the recent rescue of their cohort. Claude and the Russians arrive, as Claude paves the way for the Russians to storm in and provoke a firefight that presumably results in casualties on all sides. Claude walks away with a grin on his face as a Russian is seen gunned down.
"Crime does not pay"
The final scene depicts Claude walking to a sports car and attempting to break into it. A shadowy figure emerges from the background, revealing himself to be the Zaibatsu assassin, who fulfills his responsibility by shooting Claude three times in the back, killing him. The film ends with Claude collapsing beside the car as the assassin walks away.
- While the movie strays significantly from its source material, the movie does attempt to incorporate some of GTA 2's features:
- Five gangs from the game were included into the movie: the Rednecks, the Russians, the Yakuza, Hare Krishna, and the Zaibatsu Corporation. It is interesting to note that the first three gangs do not actually meet each other in any of Anywhere City's three districts, while the Zaibatsu appears in all three of them, and the Hare Krishna gang appears alongside Zaibatsu and the Russian Mafia in the Industrial District.
- The Rednecks' liking for Elvis is also depicted in the movie.
- The use of the spray shop as a method of evading the police is featured in the movie, as Claude has his car resprayed white after attracting heat from a squad car.
- Claude runs errands for multiple gangs, the same way the player does jobs for gangs in the game.
- Claude does not display any allegiance to any gang in the movie, the same way the player does not need to stick to working for only one side.
- Claude may be seen executing various forms of carjacking, a central feature in the GTA series, and his offenses are even referred to as a "grand theft auto" on the police scanner in the opening scene of the movie.
- Claude Speed (the game's playable protagonist) is played by Scott Maslen in the film. Scott Maslen also played DS Phil Hunter in The Bill and also plays Jack Branning in the BBC soap opera EastEnders in the UK.
- In the film, Claude Speed curiously bears a resemblance to his 3D Universe counterpart of the same name, albeit wearing a cloth jacket instead of one made of leather. And like that incarnation of the character, this Claude is depicted as ruthless and willing to apply brute force to accomplish his goals (e.g. beating up a Zaibatsu employee to take his van, and mercilessly shooting the driver of another vehicle in cold blood). He also speaks very little throughout the film, similar to how the 3D Universe incarnation is mute.
- The film was shot in 1999 New York City with the World Trade Center (pre-9/11) and the Manhattan Bridge in clear view, instead of the game's anonymous city of the future. It should be noted, however, that two fictional locations were mentioned in the film: "Chernobyl Docks" and "Disgracelands".
- The film depicts a blue-and-white NYPD 1991-1992 Chevrolet Caprice police car as a pursuit vehicle, as well as a black BMW E39 528i driven by Claude, which is later repainted white. A Ford van and a large step van are also commandeered by Claude at different points of the film.
- GTA 2: The Movie was mentioned by Futuro FM DJ, Dean Frantz in Grand Theft Auto 2.
- A group of men dressed as Asian monks appear as passengers in a step van that Claude Speed commandeers. They are presumably meant to represent the Hare Krishna gang. One of them was played by Dan Houser.