“Uncharted" stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, and Tati Gabrielle. Released on February 18, 2022, the film is about a young fortune-hunter who embarks on a dangerous adventure.
The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who also directed films such as "Zombieland", "30 Minutes or Less", and "Venom". It is based on the video game series of the same name created by Naughty Dog. There's nothing like a dangerous trip around the globe to get our hearts pumping, especially during the wintertime. This weekend sees yet another iconic video game heading to the silver screen with the hopes of breaking the "bad video-game movie curse". For those who aren't big into video games, "Uncharted" is a series of action-adventure games created by Amy Hennig and developed by Naughty Dog, the same company behind "Crash Bandicoot" and "The Last of Us". The games center on a treasure hunter who travels across the globe to uncover historical secrets and ancient relics. Think of this series as a combination of Indiana Jones and "National Treasure", but without the presence of Harrison Ford and Nicolas Cage, and the character is voiced by Nolan North. Because of its popularity towards gaming nerds and action fans, Hollywood didn't take too long to invite the franchise to join its cinematic parade. After years of casting changes and switching between different directors, the movie adaptation of "Uncharted" has finally arrived to keep us occupied until the release of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2". While I have no experience with the games, I was ecstatic to see the film in action, mainly because of the two main actors. So was this treasure worth seeking out, or should it just remain buried in uncharted territory? Let's find out.
The story centers on Nathan Drake (Holland), a young man who works as a bartender and secretly pickpockets wealthy patrons. He's also constantly waiting for the return of his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow), who he hadn't seen since when they were young. One day, Nathan encounters a fortune-hunter named Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Wahlberg), who tells him that he worked with Sam to find the hidden treasure of the Magellan crew before Sam mysteriously vanished. Knowing that he has to finish what his brother started, Nathan joins forces with Sully to find the treasure. They also have to outsmart Santiago Moncada (Banderas), a ruthless hunter seeking the Magellan riches, and Jo Braddock (Gabrielle), Moncada's mercenary. Like the previous film adaptations of popular video games, "Uncharted" features many elements that gamers would be familiar with, along with a few changes to make it more accessible for modern moviegoers. One of those changes involves the film's story. The filmmakers decided to go down the prequel route for "Uncharted" and place the movie's focus on a younger and inexperienced version of Nathan Drake. Most fans would prefer to see the older Nathan Drake from the games in action instead of Tom Holland, but as someone who hasn't got into the franchise, I honestly didn't mind this approach. It helps the audience unfamiliar with the franchise grow more attached to Nathan's humane side as he slowly becomes the expert treasure hunter we know and love. To me, this element helps provide suitable amounts of depth in the plot and the characters themselves rather than just having Drake be an unstoppable treasure-hunting hero for two hours straight, especially when it comes to the film's theme involving trust. As for the storytelling, there's not a piece of territory that hasn't been explored regarding the genre. Like I said before, "Uncharted" is a combination between "Indiana Jones" and "National Treasure", complete with action-packed set pieces and greedy antagonists. If you've seen the ones I mentioned, then you've already seen "Uncharted". It's a copy-and-paste action blockbuster that makes the journey to find the riches feel bare-boned. But despite its noticeable flaws in its plot, the film is surprisingly a fun and fast-paced ride from start to finish. Even though it doesn't reach the same heights as "Sonic the Hedgehog" or "Detective Pikachu" when it comes to video-game-based movies, "Uncharted" managed to get close thanks to the cast's presence and Ruben Fleischer's good sense of direction. Fleischer is one of the filmmakers who understands what kind of movies he wants to make, and that's charismatic pieces of blockbuster escapism. It worked for the "Zombieland" films and even "Venom" despite its share of story issues. I'm happy to say that "Uncharted" is no different as Fleischer provided an entertaining mixture of action and comedy. The movie sees Spider-Man actor Tom Holland stepping into the shoes of Nathan Drake, who Nolan North voiced in the games, and I got to say that he did all right. While not 100% perfect, Holland singlehandedly delivered a sense of sincerity and charm into the character. Plus, he's got some fantastic bartender skills. Mark Wahlberg also did pretty well regarding his performance as Sully. Like Holland, there's nothing else too special about Wahlberg, but I can say that he was more watchable here than he was in "Infinite". But, of course, it all comes down to the main leads' chemistry because that's what every adventure movie needs to entertain the audience, not just the action. Unsurprisingly, Holland and Wahlberg managed to find the right clues to reach the gold known as their endearing chemistry. Sure, some of their dialogue was stiff at times, but they compensate with their share of humor and charisma. Sophia Ali also made an effort to be a tolerable presence as Chloe Frazer, a fortune hunter and Sally's associate. Antonio Banderas and Tati Gabrielle have a few good moments on screen as Moncada and Jo Braddock, respectively. But they're not enough to make their characters more than just one-dimensional villains. The action sequences are usually one of the main selling points of the games regarding the globe-trotting shenanigans and stunt work, so it should come as no surprise that the film attempts to recapture the thrills of beating up bad guys and searching for treasure. For the most part, the action is serviceable enough to deliver some entertaining thrills without relying so much on choppy editing and shaky cam. The scenes involving Nathan falling off the plane and battling on the airlifting ships were my favorite parts of "Uncharted", even though they're implausible at times, and some of the CGI effects looked a bit rough.
Overall, "Uncharted" is something we've explored many times before, but like the games it's based on, it's a fun and thrilling experience that I couldn't help but enjoy. Yes, it's full of genre cliches, and yes, I understand that it's not going to impress many fans of the Naughty Dog franchise. But if you go into it expecting a watchable piece of entertainment escapism, chances are you're going to enjoy the ride as much as I did. With its decent cast, Fleischer's direction, and entertaining action sequences, "Uncharted" is another video-game-turned-film that's as valuable as a chest full of gold.