UNCHARTED | Film Review

RELEASED: February 11th 2022
DIRECTED BY: Ruben Fleischer
WRITTEN BY: Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Jon Hanley Rosenberg & Mark D. Walker
PRODUCED BY: Charles Roven, Avi Arad & Alex Gartner
MUSIC BY: Ramin Djawadi
STARRING: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle & Antonio Banderas

REVIEW: As someone who’s only played half of the Uncharted games, I’m familiar enough with the franchise to know who the main players are, but not enough to catch all the little Easter eggs and references sprinkled throughout. As such, the new big-screen adaptation struck me as something that wouldn’t feel out of place as your standard Netflix action film.

The film sees Nathan Drake, a young history-savvy thief pulling petty thefts, approached by treasure hunter Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. Together, the pair set off on a globe-trotting adventure to recover the lost treasure of Ferdinand Magellan, while also searching for clues to the whereabouts of Drake’s elder brother Sam.

The script is often rather trite, presenting rather predictable plot points and character arcs, as it hits all the major beats one might expect from this sort of film, throwing in a healthy dose of cliché dialogue.

It also completely lacks any sort of directorial flair, and in many ways feels a bit like it was made by committee. This is especially evident than when the film begins, and not one, not two, not three, but four(!) studio logos grace the screen. Granted, two of them are Sony Columbia Pictures and PlayStation, both subsidiaries of a larger whole, but even so.

But there are two things that elevate it above your bog-standard action-adventure movie, namely the leads, and the coat of Uncharted paint that’s been spread across this otherwise very conventional script.

Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg are both very affable as Nathan Drake and his longtime companion Sully. Although they aren’t wholly convincing as the characters as seen in the games, the longer the film goes on, and the more the pair get to interact with one another and trade quips, the more they start to resemble their video-game counterparts. 

In true origin movie style, hallmarks of the characters are layered on throughout the film, meaning that, by the end, although they still don’t fully embody the characters they’re playing, they’ve provided a solid base so that the next film can be proper Uncharted as opposed to this film, which is essentially Uncharted: Origins.

It’s also worth noting that the characters have been adapted to play to the actors’ strengths, particularly Holland’s Nathan Drake. Rather than being the cocksure adventurer, crashing through levels and gunning down hundreds of goons that Nathan Drake is in the games, Holland’s variant of the character is more innocent and agile, engaging in various parkour-esque chases, and fighting with a bit more agility than he does just fists and shootouts (not that those aren’t also present). As such, there are certain action sequences that I found to be quite enjoyably choreographed – very energetic and occasionally quite creative.

Leads and action aside, the Unchartednesss of it all also works in the film’s favour. Audience members more passionate about the franchise than myself will no doubt appreciate the various Easter eggs, references and callbacks to the games sprinkled throughout, and the grandiose set pieces feel like they’ve been plucked right out of a video game, which certainly makes for some entertaining viewing (the climax, in particular, is especially loud and bombastic).

While Fleischer and company certainly haven’t made a masterpiece here, they’ve struck a decent balance of respecting the games while also doing their own thing. The end result is a silly, light-hearted romp, with some enjoyable banter between the two leads that makes for easy viewing.

Not outstanding, but fun enough. Fine, you might say.

As such, I give it:

Thanks for reading! What’s your favourite video-game adaptation? Let me know in the comments below!

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