Video games are difficult to adapt to screen. The filmmakers must please game lovers who are familiar with the story and characters as well as casual cinema-goers who are completely new to both. A good game-based film is hard to come by. Sonic is a recent success story and seems to have pleased game fans and average viewers alike. Can the Uncharted movie do the same?
Uncharted is an action-adventure movie based on Sony’s video game series. It stars Tom Holland as Nathan Drake, Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan, and Antonio Banderas as Santiago Moncada. Drake is a treasure hunter recruited by Victor Sullivan to help find the lost treasure of the Magellan Expedition. The duo is in a race against Moncada who also seeks the lost loot.
The Uncharted movie is a prequel to the events in the game and won’t follow the established canon in the games just yet. Another issue that deviated from the games is the age of the cast which is younger than the characters in the game. While these and other deviations might annoy fans of the game it might not be a stumbling block for those unfamiliar with the franchise.
If you ignore the omissions and changes to the canon then most of what transpires on-screen will afford a pleasant cinematic experience. Uncharted revels in the action-adventure movie genre. Director Ruben Fleischer seems acutely aware of the genre’s established characters and films, lacing the screen with visual and dialogue references to classics like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean. This self-awareness disarms the viewer and adds to the charm of the story as well as the characters.
Holland is great as Nathan Drake and successfully breaks free from his Spider-Man persona. His impressive physicality in the action scenes is indeed reminiscent of his role as Marvel’s Friendly Neighborhood Webhead but that’s where it ends. The 25-year-old balances the role well, able to add just enough conflict and drama to the character to make him authentic. Drake is charming, witty, and exciting to watch.
Mark Wahlberg is great as well. The cynics will see it as a typical Wahlberg performance but, in truth, he and Holland have great chemistry. They work well together and Wahlberg is very funny despite his sly, dishonest behaviour, ending up a lovable father/brother figure and friend to Drake.
It’s unfair to expect Uncharted to be an arthouse action-adventure movie. Fans of the game might have disagreements with the material and casting but as a stand-alone movie Uncharted is a great and pleasant adventure film that viewers without an axe to grind will find highly enjoyable.
A surprisingly fun take on the gaming franchise that's not nearly as bad as critics have insinuated.