Who is ready to finally see this Uncharted movie? I feel like this film has been the subject of rumors and discussions for a good 10 years now. Video game movies have been notoriously bad and there are so many great games out there that feel ripe for a cinematic adaptation. This is a time where so many long-gestating adaptations seem to be making strides and we finally got a few good movies like Werewolves Within and Sonic the Hedgehog. But the likes of David O Russell were lined up to direct Uncharted and Nathan Fillion has been the subject of dream casting for years.
But what Uncharted is being released for all audiences to check out in theaters. First off, Zombieland and Venom director, Ruben Fleischer, takes the reins behind the camera. The young in almost every film today, Tom Holland, portrays a young and inexperienced Nathan Drake. Who is his mentor Sully? Marky Mark himself…Mark Wahlberg. This film is also not a straight adaptation of any of the games. This is a prequel that sees Drake find himself and connects with his mentor to be. Throw in a hunt for Magellan’s gold and competition from a rich and powerful Antonia Banderas and you have the 2022 version of Uncharted.
What does Fleischer offer up behind the camera? This is a long ride for a film that hits just under two-hours. It takes until the final 30-minutes for the film to find its footing and feel like that film it was meant to be. At its best, it is a swashbuckling and fun adventure with charm and exhilarating action. At its worst? It is a slog of a forgettable narrative which is carried by Holland and Wahlberg’s growing connection. There are only two set pieces and they were both (unfortunately) spoiled in the trailers. If the next (if there is another) film gets the tone right away, audiences will be in for a big treat.
Does the writing catch the spark of the series better? Not quite. A lot of the dialogue is cheesy or bland. There should have been big moments where a great barb from Drake would have been perfect…but most of those lines fall flat. Both Drake and Sully are written that they might not be the most likeable or empathetic either. The film feels a bit derivative of many of the adventur films before it (even though there are a few action sequences that are impressively rendered with great logic and tangibility written into them). Almost all of the characters feel underwritten and the film in general. It is hard to pinpoint all the issues but overall, the film feels like it lacks a specific persona or personality.
There are some big names in the film…how are they fair? One of the biggest issues with the film is that Holland feels like he is portraying a stock version of a character he has played many times before. His physicality does stand out in the film but as a character, Drake is not interesting. Isn’t he supposed to be an iconic character? Then you have Wahlberg who just plays what might actually be himself. It is the same exact performance he has done countless times before. Holland and Wahlberg finally find themselves in the third act and have some fun together. Banderas is completely wasted with minimal screen time and expositional dialogue. Tati Gabrielle looks cool in her antagonist role but has no depth. Sophia Ali’s work in the film is legitimately charming and entertaining throughout.
Will general audiences and fans alike enjoy this one? There are some on-the-nose references to iconic items and elements of the franchise. The characters do not really feel like Uncharted characters which is most unfortunate. But when it comes to delivering a fun ride…the last 30 minutes offer up the Uncharted film we have been waiting for.