Treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan recruits street-smart Nathan Drake to help him recover a 500-year-old lost fortune amassed by explorer Ferdinand Magellan. What starts out as a heist soon becomes a globe-trotting, white-knuckle race to reach the prize before the ruthless Santiago Moncada can get his hands on it. If Sully and Nate can decipher the clues and solve one of the world’s oldest mysteries, they stand to find $5 billion in treasure — but only if they can learn to work together.
I am a fan of the Uncharted games, so naturally the news that it would be adapted caught my attention. While I’m not up for every video game being turned into a movie, Uncharted did seem to make sense more than others. However, there were things that put me off watching it in cinemas; mainly the casting Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg as the two major characters from the games. I did eventually get around to watching and I thought it was okay, even if it wasn’t the best when considering the source material it’s based on.
Getting the obvious out of the way, it is an adaptation of the Uncharted games, and if you’re a fan of them like I am, there might be things you’ll have issues with. There are some aspects that are accurate to the games like some of the large action scenes. However, for whatever reason, they decided to make the characters younger here, an ill-advised decision. By the end, it really just felt like Uncharted in character names alone, and otherwise just another generic action adventure. With that said, it works better when you look at it separate from the games. I was entertained for what it was, but I wasn’t invested with the story all that much. The plot felt like it was taken from an online treasure hunting and action adventuring plot generator. It was predictable, the characters aren’t that well written, and just plays everything safe and doesn’t do much to make itself stand out from similar movies. The dialogue is cheesy, some of the humour lands, some of it really doesn’t. Still, I found it watchable enough.
There is a fairly good cast here, but most of the actors are wasted. The first of the two questionable Uncharted casting was Tom Holland as protagonist Nathan Drake. Holland definitely acts like a variation of himself and was too naïve and innocent for this character; it really doesn’t help that this version of the character is young (as is Holland himself). That being said, he was better than what I expected. There are glimmers of Nathan Drake in his performance, and he has the charm and charisma. Mark Wahlberg as Nathan’s partner Sully was another miscasting and doesn’t fair as well as Holland here. Wahlberg wasn’t that good but without knowing his character from the games he did okay (even if it just seems like he’s playing a version of himself, if not a parody). When you do look at him playing a younger version of Sully however, there is just nothing resembling the original character, just Mark Wahlberg playing a Mark Wahlberg character. The chemistry between the two leads weren’t that believable, the banter felt very generic and forced. Sophie Ali is okay as Chloe Frazer, like with Drake and Sully however, some of the choices for her character were questionable. At the very least, she does add something when placed alongside the other two actors. Antonio Banderas is rather wasted as a very one note villain. Thankfully, Tati Gabrielle picks up the slack as the other villain of the movie and really works in her part. There’s even a fun cameo related to the Uncharted games that fans will really like.
Ruben Fleischer is a solid director and his work for Uncharted was fine, but it really needed to be helmed by someone who can really excel at making movies with grander scopes, if not, at the very least having a distinct style. There’s just not enough here to elevate it above or stand out from every other action adventure treasure hunting movies. Even putting aside the classics like the Indiana Jones movies, compared to other treasure hunting riffs like the three Tomb Raider films, National Treasure or Jungle Cruise, Uncharted really feels generic. Frequent Park Chan-wook cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung shoots Uncharted, which is genuinely surprising considering that much of the movie looks quite flat. The CGI and green screen are uneven, bouncing between good and cartoonish. The action is one of the stronger points of the movie, they are well shot and entertaining. There’s even a notable sequence involving a plane which is taken straight from Uncharted 3. The score from Ramin Djawadi is good, even if I wished the Uncharted theme from the games was in it more.
If you are looking for a great adaptation of the Uncharted games, you might be a bit let down by the end result. However as someone who didn’t have the highest of expectations, it was better than what I thought it would be. The plot is very generic and familiar to other films of its genre, the adaptations of the characters were disappointing, and the direction is underwhelming at times. However, some of the cast are good (Tom Holland and Tati Gabrielle), the action is quite entertaining, and I enjoyed watching it. If you’re looking for a passable if forgettable treasure hunting action flick, then Uncharted does the job.