REVIEW: ‘Uncharted’ Showcases What Makes Treasure Adventures Great

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Uncharted - But Why Tho

Oh boy, do I love video game movies. They’re not always good, but they are usually fun (unless it’s Mario Bros.). Thankfully, Uncharted is both. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the film has a screenplay by Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway (with a screen story by Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg, and Mark D. Walker). Uncharted stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Tati Gabrielle, Sophia Ali, and Antonio Banderas, and is based on the iconic Naughty Dog game franchise of the same name.

In Uncharted, Nathan Drake is a bartender in New York, getting by thanks to his drink-slinging skills and, well, a little pocket-picking of his trust fund patrons. That is until he is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan and his crew 500 years ago. While Nate is apprehensive at first, Sully’s connection to his missing brother makes it an offer he absolutely can’t refuse.

What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs. With Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) and Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) also in the mix, the duo have their work cut out for them to decipher the clues and solve one of the world’s oldest mysteries and find $5 billion in treasure.

To start things off, Uncharted is based on the video game franchise of the same name but it changes up a lot about the characters, namely, aging them down. Holland’s Drake does suffers a bit from having his most famous role as a teenager sneak in, in small hints. Additionally, the dialogue doesn’t do much to ensure we see him as someone who’s an adult in this setting until the films second half. But in spite of that, Holland is a great Nathan Drake for this story. He may not be the one you’ve spent hours playing as, but he is a character I want to see more of, and I want to see him grow. This is because Holland throws his entire self into becoming a smartass treasure hunter with a heart of gold in a way that takes full advantage of both his physicality and charm.

Holland’s Nate fully owns the film, but never towers over another actor. Instead, his unbelievable chemistry with characters like Sully and Chloe makes an interesting story, one you can fully sink into. Additionally, the extended cast does a great job playing their treasure-hunting roles. Sully is the mentor you can’t trust who has to learn that some things are more important than gold. Chloe is the untrusting collaborator who keeps the two on their toes. And more specifically, Gabrielle is great as the intimidating Braddock, standing out in her action moments.

Those action sequences work because of capable actors, but also because of how they honor some video game mechanics and moments. More importantly, though, the sets are outstanding and the puzzles that lead our characters there, while simple, are intriguing. Ultimately, everything about this adventure reminds me why I love treasure hunting adventures. Like Jungle Cruise last year, Uncharted shows that the formula is a roaring good time.

Uncharted is the little engine that could. After extensive delays, fans of the IP (myself included) were worried that what would come out the other end would be a mess. But that’s not the case. In fact, it’s exciting and fun, even if it’s oddly paced at times. The globetrotting, the wisecracking, the double-crossing, and of course the action all coalesce for a great film. Uncharted captures its genre while honoring the spirit of the game franchise. And while franchise accuracy is something that is important, sometimes a film can succeed on its own merit alone, sticking the landing that makes you look away from weird moments that just don’t fit with who you know characters to be.

All in all, there is a lot to love about Uncharted. Even with a few moments that call out to the fans while never forgetting new audiences to the IP, making it an extremely accessible and fun introduction to Nathan Drake. It isn’t perfect but is a world of fun for a genre I’m extremely happy is coming back.

Uncharted is playing in theaters nationwide February 18, 2022.


Uncharted
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

All in all, there is a lot to love about Uncharted. Even with a few moments that call out to the fans while never forgetting new audiences to the IP, making it an extremely accessible and fun introduction to Nathan Drake. It isn’t perfect but is a world of fun for a genre I’m extremely happy is coming back.