While the narrative of the movie isn't groundbreaking, the charm of its actors paired with great visuals makes for a fun action romp.
Uncharted is the latest video game adaptation to hit theatres. Based on the population PlayStation series of the same name, the film focuses on the adventures of Nathan Drake and his origins stories to becoming the treasure hunter gaming fans have grown to love and adore. While the plot, dialogue and direction of the film aren’t by any means groundbreaking feats, the film still manages to capture the fun and adventure of what made the games so widely popular through some great cast chemistry and set pieces.
Read on knowing that this review is spoiler-free.
A formulaic plot that limits narrative
While working as a bartender, Nathan Drake meets Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan, played by Mark Wahlberg. Sully approaches Nathan and explains that he knows Nathan’s older brother Sam, who Nathan has not seen since escaping from the orphanage the two grew up in as children.
The two team up and with the help of Sophia Ali’s Chloe Frazer, a character that’s fast become a fan favourite of the franchise and the star of spin-off title Uncharted The Lost Legacy. Together, they journey across the world to uncover the fortune lost during the Magellan expedition. All the while avoiding the likes of Santiago Moncada and Tati Gabrielle, played by Antonio Banderas and Tati Gabrielle.
While fans of the games may have been expecting a middle-aged version of Nathan Drake, Sony chose to focus on the early life and beginnings of the character and how he came to be the great treasure hunter fans know and love. Tom Holland portrays a younger and less experienced Nathan Drake with charisma and charm that mirrors the flashbacks to young Nathan seen in moments of the third game in the series, Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception.
The plot itself struggles with its predictability, the intended twists and turns often struggling with their execution. Despite some additional pacing issues, director Ruben Fleischer brings viewers a film that manages to entertain for most of its run. Exposition largely remains minimal in favour of a more fast-paced and energetic film that mirrors the overall narrative of the franchise, running around the world in search of an ancient treasure.
However, while exposition may have been balanced nicely, this Uncharted film does stretch itself thin at times with the clear intent of a larger franchise hopefully spawning in the future. This leads to its narrative and direction hinting at future ideas and story direction that the casual viewer may find confusing, or simply something taking away from the central story. For die-hard Uncharted fans, the teases of what’s to come promise a bright future for the franchise and one that could lead to even grander expeditions for Nathan Drake and crew.
Casting done right across the board
The chemistry between cast members is palpable, with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg making a surprisingly fantastic father/son comedic duo. Sophia Ali proves herself as the perfect casting for a young and dynamic Chloe Fraser. However, listening to her struggling through an Australian accent does at times take you out of her performance and excellence.
Tati Gabrielle also shines as a fantastic antagonist, one that fully emerged herself in the physicality of her role to deliver a believable and at times seductive performance. Generic plot aside, the actors who feature throughout this Uncharted film and the chemistry across all character interactions prove just how essential the rapport between actors can be in elevating a script or a scene of dialogue.
Great action and set pieces for all to enjoy
Tom Holland’s dedication to continuing to build upon his career as an action star is a clear motivator for his performance in this film. While it may not be the best acting we’ve seen from him, Holland fully embodies the action hero persona and takes the role of a heartthrob to new heights.
As one can expect from any Uncharted product, extravagant set pieces and action sequences were rife throughout the film’s duration. The set-piece of Nathan Drake hanging out of an aeroplane seen in almost all the promotional footage is just as spectacular as one can expect. As one of the most iconic moments across the franchise, gamers will recognise this scene as one very similar to that in Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception. The film itself adapts this moment spectacularly and the thrill of the scene completely immerses you.
Similarly, all smaller fight scenes, chases and parkour moments feel like something straight out of an Uncharted game. While they may defy all sense of logic at times, this lack of realism surprisingly never ruins the action. Instead, the film doubles down on the dramatic and clumsy nature of the games escapism to focus more on a fun and accessible action film as a pose to a more gritty and realistic nature. In particular, fans of the games will notice Tom Holland’s movements to almost replicate the mechanics of the games. Any time Nathan Drake is climbing an obstacle or scaling a building, the way he traverses is a great homage to the gameplay mechanics of the games.
A promising beginning
Of course, it wouldn’t be a gaming adaptation without lots of easter eggs and fan service sprinkled in (and we’ll leave them to you to discover). The film does a solid job of giving fans moments to clap and cheer while ensuring the focus remains on Tom Holland’s Nathan Drake and his journey.
Uncharted sets solid foundations for what could be a successful franchise in the years to come. While not perfect by any means, it serves as one of the best video game adaptations to date and boasts a cast of actors that boost the limitations and linear nature of the plot and narrative.
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