Starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, “Uncharted” is a world-trotting action adventure blockbuster. In the search for ancient treasure, Holland’s character Nathan Drake partners with Wahlberg’s Sully in an action packed race towards gold from the old world. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, “Uncharted” takes its story and characters from the beloved video game series of the same name.
Holland delivers his usual performance by making the character of Drake likeable and clever. Wahlberg on the other hand plays Sully as a more experienced treasure seeker. While both actors display some chemistry in the form of both teamwork and bickering, the chemistry is nonetheless misplaced. Too often do the characters resort to childish quips that seem too on the nose to be natural or believable. Fans of the video game will find these characters to be complete strangers.
Thematically, the movie deals with trust. All characters have to wrestle with the issue of who they can trust. Often, they learn that they misplaced their trust and pay the consequences for it. Unfortunately, the movie relies too heavily on this plot point, one that is very familiar to the genre and far from original. The recurring use of this trope makes the movie feel predictable and cartoonish.
The actions set pieces are the main focus of the movie. There are few scenes that do not involve giant virtual effect heavy shots and sequences. With an already far-fetched plot, the overreliance on computer generated graphics adds to the fantastical element of the movie, which alienates audiences. What little time is devoted to puzzle solving and investigating leaves the audience wanting more. The small amount of time devoted to cracking riddles, finding clues within ancient artifacts and the emphasis on outlandish action sequences makes it seem as if the movie only cares about replicating soulless action blockbusters.
With a recent apparent resurgence of faith in video game movies, “Uncharted” proves that Hollywood is not making good video game movies, only that they are making movies people will go the movie theater to watch. “Uncharted” lacks the soul and charisma that made fans of the video game fall in love with the material. The characters of Drake and Sully do not live up to, or anywhere close to, their video game counterparts. Both Holland and Wahlberg seem to be chosen not for their fit but for their popularity and success with test audiences.
However, not everything in the movie falls short of grace. There are moments and scenes were the movie captures the essence of the characters that fans have loved for years. At times, the movie steps away from the assembly line style of filmmaking to focus on the strengths of the story and the characters. It is no surprise that the movie attempts to set up future sequels and if they focus on the right things, they might just pull off a worthy adaptation of the “Uncharted” franchise.
“Uncharted” pales in comparison with action adventure giants such as the Indiana Jones franchise or the National Treasure films. While it might be unfair to compare them, “Uncharted” could learn a lot from them. On one hand, a greater focus on puzzle solving and clue finding would elevate the movie beyond a simple Hollywood action movie. On the other hand, leaning away from unrealistic computer generated scenes and leaning into more clever ways to tell a story through action sequences would give the movie more character and personality.
In the end, “Uncharted” is a fun action movie without too much getting in the way of the main actors and its million-dollar shots. While it never achieves any highs, the video game adaptation is strong enough to hold its own.