Uncharted is a 2022 action-adventure film based on the Sony video game series of the same name. The film stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle and Antonio Banderas and follows treasure hunters Nathan Drake and Victor “Sully” Sullivan as they look to recover a 500-year-old lost fortune.
Despite having shamefully never played any of the Uncharted games, I went into with Uncharted with high expectations given its stellar cast and huge video game fanbase. Whilst I can’t comment on the likeness of the film compared to the game series, I can comment on the film as an action-adventure movie.
Tom Holland leads Uncharted as main character Nathan Drake, a young fortune hunter who is recruited by Sully, played by Mark Wahlberg, as they embark on an adventure to find the fabled treasure of the Magellan expedition. Overall, it’s a very solid performance from Tom Holland as Nathan “Nate” Drake and at no point in the film did I ever really think of him as Spiderman, which is credit to his versatility as an actor. Whilst the character is not quite as iconic as other famous fortune hunters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, I think the foundations are there for what could be a memorable character in years to come.
Mark Wahlberg plays Sully, Drake’s partner/mentor and whilst Sully is more of a secondary character compared to Nate, I’d loved to have seen him much more involved throughout the narrative. Some of the best moments in the film stem from Sully and Nate’s banter with one another, it’s just a shame it’s in such short supply. I was severely disappointed with Antonio Banderas’ character, the corrupt billionaire Santiago Moncada. There was so much potential for Uncharted to have a fantastic fear-inducing villain in Antonio Banderas, but through some terrible screenplay we instead we receive a hollow and lacklustre character who ends up as memorable as he is intimidating.
My biggest issue with Uncharted is how safe the story feels. Uncharted certainly doesn’t break any boundaries with its narrative and whilst there are a few twists and turns in its plot with characters double crossing one another, the story ends up feeling fairly predictable. Whilst most films nowadays don’t really break the mould with their structure and end result, it’s still disappointing to have a pretty good idea of where the film will end, following the opening act. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing necessarily bad about the typical action movie approach Uncharted adopts and it did keep me engaged for the duration, but the film as a whole felt fairly cautious and conservative with its foreseeable story.
The Uncharted games are renowned for their intricate puzzles and that’s an element that actually translates fairly well to the film. Whilst the puzzles which Nate and Sully attempt to decipher aren’t quite up to the standard of The Da Vinci Code, most of them kept me engrossed in their treasure hunting adventure. I’d certainly have liked to have seen more puzzles and mysteries throughout the film though, as these scenes were some of the few moments where Uncharted actually offered an ounce of originality.
I’m very much caught in two minds about the action in Uncharted. On the one hand, some of the action sequences in the film feel as if they have been plucked straight out of the video game; in particular the scene in which Nate attempts to climb into a cargo plane whilst it is in mid-air, which felt like a quick time event which had been yanked straight from the video game itself. This video game feel to certain action sequences offers a nice relatability to the film’s source material and something which I very much appreciated.
On the other hand however, some of the action sequences feel so far-fetched and brazen that I simply didn’t enjoy them, namely the explosive final sequence to the film. Just because an action sequence is extravagant and outrageous doesn’t necessarily make it great, and I think a lot of films nowadays could do well to remember that. Sometimes well-crafted choreography and back to basics hand-to-hand combat is more than sufficient, hence the success of films like John Wick.
All in all, I think Uncharted will certainly leave audiences with mixed feelings. Whilst the film is more than sufficient as an action-adventure story with absurd action sequences, that will no doubt satisfy the average cinemagoer, I can’t help but think that fans of the video game series will be left feeling bitterly disappointed.
With a lack of originality, a predictable story and a lousy villain, Uncharted fails to match the lofty heights of its video game series, despite an admirable performance from its lead.