‘Uncharted’ Explores Familiar Territory But Struggles to Find Its Rhythm – Review
The Uncharted video game franchise is immensely popular among gamers and is perhaps one of the most commercially successful video game franchises out there. After the O.G. video game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, was released, multiple sequels followed, as did a prequel, standalone game, and a card game spin-off. Now, this video game is joining the collection of video games receiving a film rendition with Uncharted, starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Tati Gabrielle, Sophia Ali and Antonio Banderas.
In this prequel of sorts, which is a different one from the standalone prequel within the video game franchise, Nathan Drake (Holland) is introduced as a bartender seeking out adventure, the way his brother Sam did. The call for adventure is answered in the form of Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Wahlberg), an explorer interested in Drake’s abilities and connection to his former partner, Sam. Along the ride, the two encounters fellow fortune hunter Chloe Frazer (Ali) and antagonists Jo Braddock (Gabrielle), a leader of mercenaries for hire and her employer, Santiago Moncada (Banderas), while on the hunt for treasure left behind from the Magellan expedition.
Uncharted seems like it’s a film that knows what it’s meant to do, and that’s to entertain. Which it does well. It’s not the next coming of Indiana Jones, but it’s an enjoyable 116-minute ride. What the film also does well is highlight how incredibly charming Holland is. He may not be the Drake that video game fans imagined, but his charisma and “boy-next-door” charm fill up the screen in each shot he’s in.
Another highlight is Gabrielle’s Braddock. Gabrielle is no stranger to the antagonist role, as seen in the antagonist-turned-ally Prudence from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. As Braddock, she brings a concentrated fierceness that radiates in her engagement with her cast members and within her action scenes.
Speaking of action scenes, Holland and Gabrielle are truly a sight to see on-screen as they effortlessly move and fight across different settings. The film really leans into Holland’s dance, parkour, and gymnastics background, while highlighting Gabrielle’s talented, black belt-level martial arts skills. Audiences will see what may have taken years of training look natural to the two actors.
Again, the film is entertaining, but there’s a certain “wow” factor that’s missing from a movie that could have easily been set up to be a winter blockbuster. It could be that the pulse of the film never feels like it breaks above a mid-level tempo or that the chemistry between Wahlberg and Holland’s characters doesn’t feel believable.
Also, for someone who didn’t play the Uncharted video games, there are a lot of things within it that won’t bother you. But fans of the video game may find this movie a harder pill to swallow since it doesn’t follow any of the original plotlines from the video games.
Uncharted is a film made for entertainment purposes. It’s following a formula that feels like it should work, but with a script that progresses slower than what the film tries to achieve, there’s a disconnect. Whether there is a future in film for the Uncharted video game franchise is unknown, but in the meantime, audiences can enjoy the franchise exploring this path. Who knows? They might find gold later on.