Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) joins Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) on a globetrotting treasure hunt in Uncharted.
Uncharted fans need to lower their expectations for the hit video games big-screen adaptation. A-list leads Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg elicit a few chuckles with their banter. But they never fully inhabit the beloved personalities of the swashbuckling fortune hunters. Uncharted has a rote and uninspired plot that struggled to hold my attention. The film comes across as an adventure by checklist. Ticking boxes for parkour, puzzles, and gunplay as a weak nod to the much better source material. It also doesn’t help that the clunky CGI action looks like PS4 cutscenes.
The story begins with a young Nathan Drake (Tiernan Jones) watching his older brother, Sam (Rudy Pankow), run away from their orphanage after a botched heist. Years later, the adult Nathan (Tom Holland) works as a bartender at an upscale New York City restaurant. He gives the patrons history lessons while ripping them off. Nathan gets a visit from Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). He and Sam were partners searching for Ferdinand Magellan’s fabled lost gold.
Nathan joins Sully’s quest to find out what happened to his brother. They have formidable adversaries also seeking the treasure. Santiago Moncado (Antonio Banderas), whose family funded Magellan’s expedition in the 16th century, has hired a ruthless mercenary to recover his ancestral birthright. Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) and her goons will stop at nothing to find the billions in gold. Nathan and Sully are forced to join forces with Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), another ex-partner, on a globetrotting race against Moncado.
Let’s start with full disclosure. I’ve played and thoroughly enjoyed every Uncharted video game since the classic “Drake’s Fortune”. My goal was to watch this film as a die-hard fan. And to also view it dispassionately for those who aren’t familiar with Naughty Dog’s Playstation franchise. Uncharted sadly fails on both counts. It’s a lackluster representation of the game and a tepid action-adventure flick. Cardboard supporting characters, a banal script, and cartoonish visual effects add up to disappointment. There’s an engagement level the film never attains. The fun factor is missing from the narrative.
Tom Holland is miscast as Nathan Drake. He has a charming disposition and definitely bulked up. But doesn't have the swagger and physical stature of the game's protagonist. The attributes that make Tom Holland a great Peter Parker/Spider-Man work against him as Nathan Drake. A decade ago we were all begging for Nathan Fillion. I couldn’t help but think about him while watching the film, Fillion as Drake and Russell Crowe as Sully. That ship has long sailed to fantasy land. Uncharted’s producers need to bend the character towards Holland’s strengths for the inevitable sequels.
I wish there was something outstanding in this film to warrant a recommendation. Uncharted goes through the motions but never finds its footing. Antonio Banderas was obviously collecting a paycheck here. Stick around during the credits. The game storylines are very entertaining on YouTube if anyone wants a better Uncharted experience. Uncharted is produced by Columbia Pictures, Playstation Productions, and Atlas Entertainment. It will have an exclusive theatrical release on February 18th from Sony Pictures.
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