75 / 100
Watchable Minutes : Running at just under 120 minutes, there’s about 100 minutes of worthwhile entertainment here.
- Run time : 1 hour 56 minutes
- Studio : Sony
- Director : Ruben Fleischer
- Where to Watch : In Theaters
Nathan Drake, a particularly gifted pick pocket and history buff lives in New York after aging out of his orphanage overseas. He is recruited by veteran private trasure hunter Victory “Sully” Sullivan to track down the fabled lost treasure of Magellan. The treasure proves to be well hidden and much sought after by many parties, including the Moncados, the family who is responsible for Magellan’s original voyage.
I’m not the biggest gamer in the world, but I’m not the most out of touch gamer either. Sure I’ve played Skyrim like 90 times but who hasn’t? I have an appreciation for gaming in all forms (except Roblox, sorry not sorry) and I have been an Xbox and PlayStation fan for many years. Unlike Resident Evil or Moral Kombat, Uncharted is without a doubt one of the greatest and most consistent video game franchises of all time. The gameplay is smooth, the graphics are always pushing the limits of the console generation, and the story is miles ahead of most of the competition. Naughty Dog has some very talented writers on staff and coupled with their longstanding relationship with Sony, they have curried enough favor to never be rushed on a project (that I’ve heard about at least) and it absolutely shows in the final product. This isn’t a review on the games, although I could go on and on about how good they are. No, this is centered on the unnecessary Uncharted video game movie starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and Antonio Banderas. Like most video game adaptations, this one is wide of the mark but it somehow manages to be an enjoyable movie. Directed by Ruben Fleischer who directed things like Zombieland and Venom (plus their associated sequels), Uncharted is a mixup of all the available lore and manages to tell a somewhat cohesive story with a decent cast.
Borrowing some lore and set pieces from each of the games, Uncharted begins in the middle of the action with the airplane scene from the trailer and transitions into a mini-origin sequence. It differs from the lore that fans are used to as adaptations always mix things up just a bit to keep the audience guessing. However, there’s enough similarity that should satisfy any casual fan and prevent any hardcore fan from getting too annoyed. The story then picks up with Nathan Drake working in a New York City bar stealing small items off of rich customers. It is here that he meets Victory “Sully” Sullivan, portrayed by Mark Wahlberg who is completely miscast in this role. Nathan is introduced to the job that Sully is working on with the motivation that his long-lost brother Sam was part of Sully’s crew at one point. Sully tells Nate that there was a treasure discovered by Ferdinand Magellan’s crew and that he has 1 of 2 keys needed to track it down. Together they begin casing an auction house where the second key is being sold.
The Moncada family, headed by Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), wishes to purchase the key to find the location of the lost treasure that Magellan stole from them. After stealing the key, Sully and Nate begin their globetrotting expedition in typical tongue-in-cheek backstabbing fashion. While there’s no Elana Fisher to be seen (maybe in the sequel?), Chloe Frazer (portrayed by Sophia Ali) becomes an integral character to the story and helps push Nathan and Sully together. There are the typical treasure hunter movie tropes like maps being looked at in different angles and moments of faux-failure to check the usual boxes. The movie ends with the villain meeting their demise in stunning fashion and the two main characters riding off into the sunset together to plan their next adventure. The whole story feels less Uncharted / Indiana Jones and more National Treasure, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The cast is the biggest complaint that many people will have with this movie, myself included. Sully is such an important character to the games as a whole and is integral to Nathan’s character development in the series and Wahlberg just does not have that skill set. He feels out of place as the grizzled veteran treasure hunter and almost hamstrings Tom Holland’s character. Holland has proven he can be funny with Spider-Man and Nathan Drake has a very similar personality, which is no doubt why he was cast but he’s held back by Wahlberg. Somebody like J.K. Simmons would have been a more natural fit because he actually looks close to the real Sully. Those two aside, the villains in this movie don’t exist in the games so they get a pass on that front, but Antonio Banderas is not menacing as a villain and Tati Gabrielle feels like she’s trying too hard. Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer is actually an enjoyable casting and I want to see her in the eventual sequel.
Mediocre story and poor casting aside, the visuals and score are fairly middle of the road. There are some awesome-looking set pieces that were lifted straight from the video games, but then there are some sequences that are so ridiculous that you’re reminded that it is just a video game movie. I don’t want to spoil the scene I’m talking about but it is nuts. You’ll know it when you see it. In between these set pieces were moments where it was painfully obvious that Holland was standing in front of a green screen, which is unacceptable for a big-budget movie like this. Additionally, there isn’t a memorable song or theme in the movie that stuck with me, which is a shame because the games always had fairly catchy action music. The dialogue feels like it was written by somebody who only watched the trailers for the games and based the characters off those exclusively. There are inherent similarities to Indiana Jones with a movie like this and they made the right decision to acknowledge it and lean into it.
Overall, the semi faithful adaptation of the beloved video game franchise is converted into a decently entertaining video game movie that is hamstrung by awkward casting. Ruben Fleischer manages to take weak concepts and turn them into incredibly marketable movies and this is no exception. Don’t rush to the theater to see it, but don’t skip it on your next movie night.