2 1/2 Stars

Uncharted (2022)

The lost treasure of Ferdinand Maguffin (err, Magellan)

The undisputed magic of the Uncharted video game series was that it was the closest thing one could do to feel like they were Indiana Jones (outside of the original Tomb Raider games or being Harrison Ford).

The individual plots of the games were not entirely as memorable to me as the gameplay. Like the Indy films, the physics behind the action was ludicrous, yet still seemed plausible at the same time. I can’t speak for many video games in the present day (I watch too many movies to have time to play them), but some games like Uncharted seem so well suited to the video game world that they are cinematic on their own terms, and don’t require a film adaptation.

Sadly, we did get one in Uncharted. It is by no means a horrible film, but has enough flaws that it shouldn’t surprise you to find out it has been in development for over a decade. One person who has been attached to star in the film for sometime is Mark Wahlberg (not entirely a stranger to films based off of video games), reportedly the original choice of the series’ main protagonist, Nathan Drake.  Now, he is playing Drake’s mentor Victor Sullivan (always called “Sully”.)

He stumbles upon Drake (Tom Holland) one night after Drake’s shift as a bartender (the skills Holland reportedly practiced at drink making are actually pretty cool). Sully is after the lost treasure of Ferdinand Maguffin (err, Magellan), and hit a hitch after losing touch with his partner Sam, Nathan’s older brother who left him fifteen year’s earlier.

Of course, a villain is required, so who better in this case to portray a villainous treasure hunter than the nearly always charming Antonio Banderas as Santiago Moncada, who is also aided by Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), a merchanary with past ties to Sully. Another with past ties to Sully is Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), a fortune hunter who has also caught the eye of Nathan Drake.

Like the source material, Uncharted does have a somewhat prudent amount of visual eye candy to gape at (the opening sequence is based off of what is probably the most popular set piece of the video game series). Of course, stories such as these are compelled to take us to visit global destinations that are no less than the most exotic (featuring a hotel with a familiar sounding voice for die hard fans of the game).

Another of the primary ingredients to the success of the video games was that of the relationship between Drake and Sully. You could tell these two had been through more than their share of adventures. Sully was always of the mind of “I’m getting to old for this”, yet stayed in the game mainly for the treasure (and, if I remember correctly, the women as well). Drake seemed to always been in his own personal prime. In short, these two had great chemistry.

Holland and Wahlberg have that to a certain extent. My only true issue is that I did not sense the same type of age gap between the two (I am aware this more of an “origins” type of story). Both actors have had experience of trading wise cracks with other actors over their individual careers, and do what they can with the dialogue

(Note: I recently finally caught up to the 1987 film Broadcast News, written and directed by the great James L. Brooks. Perhaps having that on my mind may have been unjust to Uncharted in hoping it would have the same quality of dialogue.)

Parents, the movie would be fine for anyone over the age of a preteen. There is some swearing and suggestive material (no nudity). Nothing a child has not seen in any of the Marvel films.

The other issue, of course, is if kids have actually played the games before (more likely than their parents having played the games.) Above all, kids will want to see the film mainly because it has Spider-Man in it (the same would be the case for a lot of teenage girls as well).

Hopefully they are forewarned that the film is exploring territory that other films have otherwise, with much better ramifications, charted before.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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