June 23, 2024

Uncharted movie review: enjoyable, yet lackluster

The Uncharted video game series are some of the best games I’ve played. It draws inspiration from adventure films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and puts a modern spin on them with a charmingly sarcastic protagonist. 

The series is full of action set pieces that are as bombastic as they are cinematic, which would seem like a perfect fit for a film adaptation. Unfortunately, the film itself fails to deliver on many of the aspects it tries to replicate.

Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is a young bartender, as well as a thief and treasure hunter, whose life changes when he meets Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), another treasure hunter claiming to have worked with Nathan’s brother, Sam. Joined by Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), the trio set off to recover the lost treasure of Ferdinand Magellan’s crew. Along the way, they find themselves in conflict with Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a menacing man with ties to the treasure, setting Nathan and his friends on a path racing against their adversaries to recover the treasure first.

Tom Holland does a fine job at capturing the spirit of Nathan Drake. He makes light of many of the situations he finds himself in throughout the film, while also showing a maturity in many of its more dramatic scenes that never feels out of place. 

Wahlberg’s take on Sully is a pleasant surprise, as we see a man whose pursuit of fortune often clashes with his mistrust of people, while also being a charming presence at the same time. He and Holland share some hilarious chemistry on screen, but that’s just about where the intrigue in these characters end.

The film moves at a very brisk pace, especially in the beginning, leaving little room for anything to really develop before we’re thrown into the next scene. Much of Nathan’s motivation stems from wanting to complete what he and his brother started, and Sully just wants to find the treasure and get his payday at (almost) any cost. 

Our villain is just as shallow; while Banderas does bring a level of intimidation to the role of Santiago, his character barely goes deeper than reminding us how his family are the only ones entitled to the treasure.

Action scenes prove to be both enjoyable and lackluster, as some of the stunts being pulled off are fun to watch when combined with Holland’s amusing dialogue. However, the much larger set pieces end up feeling less impressive due to some poor CGI and certain moments that make you question the laws of physics entirely, even for a film based on a game series known for over-the-top action sequences.

Even with these pitfalls, this film is still a fun time. There are many nods to the game series hidden throughout that I couldn’t help but get a little bit of joy from, whether it was the music or the visuals themselves. While the action can be lacking at times, they were exciting enough to entertain me momentarily.

“Uncharted” is a serviceable adventure film that never quite finds its footing among the ones that came before, as thin characters and lackluster action scenes create an overall bland experience, despite the talent of its cast. Nods to the games may please fans for a short time but the film is likely to ultimately disappoint across all audiences.

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