Sony’s Uncharted video game series hits the big screen and it’s easy enough to understand why. The game series featured the player taking the role of globe-trotting adventurer Nathan Drake. It was quite a bit of fun to slip into that Indiana Jones-style role.
But with a franchise that no doubt took huge inspiration from the genre, the Uncharted movie leaves a lot to be desired. I’m sure there’s probably a whole lot of character and lore left out of this picture when compared to the games. For most audiences, however, this is just another adventure picture that will ultimately end up being forgettable.
The Uncharted Movie — Tom Holland Is A Plucky Adventurer
There’s been a lot of criticism for the casting of Tom Holland for the lead role of Nathan Drake. He’s rather young and, despite being rather athletic and capable of fight scenes, doesn’t have the same build. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Uncharted movie didn’t turn his shortness into a running gag.
Nathan grew up adoring treasures and history but ultimately ended up as a bartender. When he’s not entertaining with mixing drinks or spouting random historical facts, he’s swiping jewelry off the bar patrons. If only there were some way to combine his penchant for stealing with his love of ancient artifacts.
Spotting this correlation is the fortune seeker Sully (Mark Wahlberg). He informs Nathan about the missing ships of the Magellan expedition, something Nathan has quite a bit of knowledge about. Considering this would also be a chance for Nathan to get in some travel to seek out his lost brother, he joins up for a historical heist.
Holland and Wahlberg are posed as a mismatched pair of thieves in the Uncharted movie. Holland takes pleasure in the many discoveries while Wahlberg spouts some wry commentary. Sadly, they don’t exactly have a strong buddy dynamic.
Part of this is due to how awkward Holland appears in the role. Sure, he can hold his own easily in some rather impressive action sequences. But, wow, he can’t quite master that New York accent.
This seems strange. Why did he need to have this? Holland has served just fine as New Yorker Peter Parker in the Spider-Man movies without such an accent. It’s clear from this film that he’s better off without trying to pull it off.
In this respect, Wahlberg is the better actor here. His usual bluster doesn’t feel overblown. However, it’s quite clear that both these actors are better in their fright scenes than they are with the back and forth.
There are some supporting roles but they don’t offer much support for making the Uncharted movie feel anything more than standard. You’ve got Antonio Banderas as the greedy villain of a wealthy man from old money. It’s a role so typical he practically sleepwalks through the quiet and sinister nature of his familiar character.
Sophia Ali plays Sully’s nemesis/love-interest Chloe Frazer. She works well as the deceiver who makes off with the treasure in the end. Of course, her betrayals and turn-coating are telegraphed from a mile away, even if you’re not as familiar with this common archetype.
It’s a blessing that the Uncharted movie has Tati Gabrielle as the black-knight mercenary of Jo Braddock. She’s a lot of fun to watch as the cold and violent woman out for her own gain. She makes the grand climax all the more exciting with her blade-slinging and no-nonsense attitudes.
Uncharted Movie Has Some Fun Sequences
Unsurprisingly, the Uncharted movie does succeed in its exciting action sequences. It is quite a treat watching Holland mix drinks at a bar while also finding clever ways to beat up pursuing goons. Even the compositing-heavy sequence of him dangling out of a cargo plane has some excitement.
Whenever the film departs from the lukewarm character interactions, these sequences are the best part. This includes a pretty clever climax were the heroes and villains battle on dueling expedition ships hoisted into the sky. I can’t say I’ve seen that in most adventure movies.
The biggest issue with the picture is that it just doesn’t have much charisma. The many times where both Holland and Wahlberg attempt to crack jokes just end up falling flat. The film even holds for your laughter that is unlikely.
One of the most awkward moments is when infiltrating a church, Nathan stops when he spots one nun. “Nuns. Why’d it have to be nuns,” he mutters, drawing reference to Indiana Jones and his childhood in Catholic boarding school. Except we don’t see much of or hear about Nathan’s fear of nuns so this joke just ends up flat.
I was a bit perplexed when spotting a cameo by Nolan North, the original voice actor of Nathan Drake. This isn’t a Stan Lee style, blink-and-you-miss-it cameo though. The Uncharted movie is expecting you to know who this is and laugh at his joke about mentioning he also fell out of a plane. It’s a gag that the gamers might smile at but will make non-fans scratch their heads, along with all the other lackluster moments of humor.
The Uncharted movie is sure to be chalked up by gamers as another failed video game movie and proof of the fabled video game movie curse. The truth is it’s not that bad. It’s not a good movie but it’s not something to get all flustered about.
Sure, there will be arguments that if the films lifted this or that from the games that it would be a better movie. It might’ve been but, at the end of the day, there’s not a whole lot to separate Uncharted from the slew of better adventure movies. This is a crowded genre and the only acclaim that Uncharted seems to have is that it’s based on a video game, probably the only notable thing about the picture to note when it becomes lost amid similar movies.
Did you see Uncharted? What did you think of the film? Is it better than other video game movies? Let us know in the comments below.
Uncharted is currently playing in theaters.