Uncharted is the long-awaited film adaptation of the hit game series, finally hitting the big screen after spending nearly 15 years in development. With a cast and trailer that left die-hard game fans unconvinced, sadly the end result doesn’t do enough to convince even an Uncharted novice that it’s worth its weight in gold.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), the film opens on Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) fighting his way up a train of cargo hanging from the hold of an aircraft. After dispatching some goons, he reaches the aircraft just as the cargo breaks loose, only to be hit by a car driving out of the hold. We then flashback to 15 years earlier where a young Nate and his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) break into a museum to steal the first-ever world map belonging to explorer Magellan, who was believed to have a ship full of gold that was never recovered. They’re caught and returned to the orphanage they live in, and with the threat of incarceration, Sam flees promising Nate he’ll come back for him.
Cut to the present day and Nate is working as a bartender in New York, with a side job stealing from the wealthy clients that frequent the bar. Despite receiving postcards from Sam as he travelled the world, Nate has not seen him in 10 years. After finishing a shift that involved lifting a bracelet from a patron, Nate is approached by Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), with the offer of a job that promises Nate a chance to see his brother again and to obtain Magellan’s lost treasure.
The job involves a number of valuable artefacts that must be acquired before the treasure can be found, and Nate and Sully are not alone in their hunt for the treasure. Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), son of the prominent and wealthy Moncada family, is also on the hunt for the lost treasure and has employed Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), a woman with a past linked to Sully, in order to help him track down the artefacts and stop anyone who gets in their way. Along the way, Nate and Sully also team up with Chloe (Sophia Ali) as they face a number of obstacles to reach the treasure before Moncada and his men.
With the game series having been inspired by the likes of Indiana Jones, Uncharted had a lot to live up to and unfortunately, as a treasure hunting adventure film, it sadly falls a little flat. The traps, riddles and clues are either ridiculously basic and repetitive (like using the same key multiple times) or resolved in a very vague and unsatisfactory manner. You never get that satisfying “Ahh!” moment when they solve a clue in an incredibly ingenious manner, as well, this just isn’t that clever.
Sony have also chosen to go down the origin story route with this film, almost in a way to justify the actors that have been cast. I love Tom Holland, but I’m afraid he just isn’t right as Nathan Drake. In the games, he’s a seasoned, sarcastic and grizzled treasure hunter, whereas Holland is just too innocent looking and his Drake is more like a slightly naughtier version of Peter Parker. Holland is always fun to watch and he does what he can, but a lacklustre script and a lack of chemistry with Wahlberg’s Sully does little other than highlight the fact that he’s been miscast. In fact, the entire cast here suffers from the poor script and plot. The bad guys especially are completely unengaging and non-descript and Antonio Banderas’ villain is horrendously dull.
It’s a shame as there were some promising aspects here – despite the poor script and lack of chemistry, there were still some clever and funny moments between Drake and Sully. The action scenes are hit and miss, some with far too many shaky camera movements that I almost felt motion sick, whereas the finale set pieces and action are much better done and actually pretty impressive. It looks good overall and with a runtime below 2 hours, it isn’t long enough to drag and I was kept entertained throughout. There’s enough here that it makes you wonder what this film could have been like had it been better executed.
As a treasure hunting adventure film, Uncharted fails to live up to the films that inspired the original game series and had potential that has been squandered by poor execution and misplaced casting. However despite this, it is at least mildly entertaining and a fairly pleasant, if not forgettable, way to spend a couple of hours.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!