Movie Review: ‘Uncharted’ (2022)

Tom Holland stars as treasure hunter Nathan Drake in Sony’s long-awaited Uncharted adaptation, but is this the swashbuckling adventure we’ve been waiting for?

It’s been more than a few years since Sony first talked about adapting its massively popular Uncharted video game into a movie, and it hasn’t been what you would call smooth sailing. Many directors, including Free Guy filmmaker Shawn Levy and Bumblebee director Travis Knight, have come and eventually gone – with different versions of the film very nearly happening. It wasn’t until Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Venom) boarded the project, however, that things finally started to move forward with an Uncharted movie.

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It’s worth noting that Fleischer’s Uncharted adaptation deviates somewhat from the best-selling video-game series, with the director choosing to cast Spider-Man star Tom Holland as a much younger version of the central character, Nathan Drake. The film takes Nathan on his first swashbuckling adventure, as he’s recruited by Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a lost fortune.

It’s no secret that Hollywood doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to video game adaptations, even when it comes to some of the most adaptable video game properties like Assassins Creed and Tomb Raider, but I’m here to report that Uncharted is actually one of the better video game adaptations around. Ruben Fleischer’s Uncharted is a fun, action-packed adventure flick, albeit one that doesn’t bring anything original to the table.

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The only way I can possibly describe Uncharted is to say that it’s exactly what you expect it to be in every possible way. Ruben Fleischer has delivered a perfectly enjoyable, run-of-the-mill action/adventure movie, but it seems the director stopped short of giving fans something they’ve not seen a million times before. If you walk into this film hoping for a fun, mindless popcorn movie, you’ll more than likely walk out satisfied. If you enter the cinema hoping to see a game-changing, worthy adaptation of the video game, however, I have a feeling you’ll be somewhat disappointed.

If the primary objective of Uncharted was to give audiences a big, explosive action movie, I would say that it more than did its job. As a big, dumb action film, Uncharted delivers some of the biggest and dumbest action that I’ve seen in quite some time – and I loved every second of it. It’s impossible to watch Uncharted and not get swept away in the action, but it must be said that Fleischer also does a good job of constructing fun and exciting sequences that centre around characters finding clues and unlocking the overall mystery.

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As for the performances, I think the majority will be pleasantly surprised. Tom Holland probably isn’t the Nathan Drake that fans of the games are expecting or even hoping for, but the Spider-Man star delivers an undeniably solid performance. Holland oozes charm and charisma as a young Nathan Drake, proving yet again that he’s one of the most likeable actors working in Hollywood today. Holland’s version of Drake might not look or feel exactly like the grizzled hero we know and love from the games, but by the end of the movie it’s easy to see him as a younger version of the same character.

Fans of the games will more than likely struggle to come to terms with Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal of Victor “Sully” Sullivan, who acts as a mentor to Holland’s young Drake. Wahlberg delivers his usual charm and style – but the actor fails to truly find his footing as the character. With that said, the relationship that forms between Holland’s Drake and Wahlberg’s Sully is one of the best things that Uncharted has going for it, and it’s something that could be developed even further in a sequel.

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We also meet Sophia Ali’s Chloe Frazer and Tati Gabrielle’s Braddock, who are both implemented quite effectively by Fleischer. At the end of the day, however, the characters aren’t given the opportunity to develop and are more often than not only in the film to give Drake and Sully an obstacle to overcome. Antonio Banderas is utterly wasted in this movie, in fact, I would go as far as to say that it’s one of the most dull and forgettable performances I’ve seen in recent memory.

Uncharted might not come close to the games that it is adapted from, but Ruben Fleischer has delivered a perfectly enjoyable and at times thrilling action/adventure film, which is only held back by the fact that it could have been a truly GREAT one.

Rating: ★★★

About Uncharted

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle and Antonio Banderas

Plot: Nathan Drake and his wisecracking partner Victor “Sully” Sullivan embark on a dangerous quest to find the greatest treasure never found while also tracking clues that may lead to Nate’s long-lost brother.

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