TL;DR – Well, Tom Holland’s charisma can only go so far in fixing this dull mess
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film
Uncharted Review –
Some memories stick with you as you grow up. For me, one of those memories is the family sitting around the tv watching my brother play Uncharted as we enjoyed the unfolding story and looked out for any hidden items. Given how successful and loved this video game franchise is, I am not alone with having attachments to this game, but I was also a little wary of disappointment walking into this film. The casting was a choice, and nothing around the marketing had imbued any confidence with the film, and I can now see why.
So to set the scene, we open with Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) getting kicked out of a cargo plane and then run over by a car. But fifteen years earlier, a young Nate (Tiernan Jones) and his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) break into a museum to steal a map but are caught by guards. Sent back to the orphanage, Sam will be sent to jail, but he escapes leaving Nate behind. Currently, Nate is a bartender who pickpockets his clients when a strange man called Sully (Mark Wahlberg) walks into the bar and offers him a link to the past.
Look, I am not going to be too complimentary about this film, but I want to be clear that it is not a complete mess. To begin with, to my great surprise, Tom is a good Nathan Drake in this story that is narratively set before the first game, so him being a little too young is not as big of a problem as it could be. The scene at the start where he is getting his flirt on and quietly stealing people’s jewellery while slinging drinks was a nice touch on the character. As well as this, the narrative, look it is serviceable if nothing else, and it does have one moment on the cusp of the third act where I went ‘oh interesting’.
However, while seeing that Tom Holland has an excellent workout routine is one factor that people go to see a film, the other factors are story, dialogue, characters, effects, and heart/soul, and this is where the film came up short. From a characterisation perspective, I never bought Mark Wahlberg as Sully, even if this is a pre-Sully than who we know. Unlike Tom, the character never grew on me, and the film was much better when he was not there. I also feel sorry for Sophia Ali, who was clearly not given enough time to locate her accent. They were going for a soft-Australian like the in-game character Chloe Frazer voiced by Claudia Black. Instead, we get inflections from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and England all mushed together. Also, Tati Gabrielle as Jo Braddock could have been an interesting character. The foundation is there, but she is an R-rated villain in a PG-13 film, which completely undercuts her characterisation.
From the production perspective, the visual effects were a total hit and miss. In some respects, they were stunning, like the opening plane sequence or the third act set piece. However, they were clearly not given enough time to polish the rest of the film, with CGI-doubles being clearly apparent in places and even background replacements lit at a different exposure to the action in front. All of this blending takes time, and clearly, they were not given it. There is a blandness to a lot of the production, including, unfortunately, the musical score, which given the composer is Ramin Djawadi, who is one of the best modern composers. I honestly don’t know where things went wrong. Some moments needed bombast but were instead hollow and empty. The whole third act action set piece is a complete drag, and the music is one of the reasons why that is. As well as this, they were unsure how they would use the musical themes from the games, and the answer for this film was badly.
One area that they struggled with throughout the film is the adaptation. When you adapt any work from one medium to another, you don’t need to get all of the small details right, but you need to get the heart and soul of the adaptation. This film gets none of that. Sure, there are set pieces from the game, and the names are the same, but this adaptation has no spirit. It honestly feels like they wanted to do another National Treasure but slapped the Uncharted IP over it, making it a bad Uncharted film and a bad National Treasure clone. The story is so bland that you can’t help but pick out the flaws in the rationale of the puzzles, which is never a good sign in a film like this.
In the end, do we recommend Uncharted? It makes me sad to say this, but, no, no I don’t. At best, this is an inoffensive romp, so at its worst, it is just dull, which means it could have been much worse. Look, I hope they take some lessons away from this and build upon it for the next film they set up for at the end because I want to see this franchise work. If you liked Uncharted, I would also recommend to you Assassin’s Creed.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Uncharted
Directed by – Ruben Fleischer
Screenplay by – Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway
Based on – Uncharted by Naughty Dog, Amy Hennig, Neil Druckmann & Josh Scherr
Music by – Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography by – Chung-hoon Chung
Edited by – Chris Lebenzon & Richard Pearson
Production/Distribution Companies – Columbia Pictures, Arad Productions, Atlas Entertainment, PlayStation Productions & Sony Pictures Releasing
Starring – Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Rudy Pankow, Pilou Asbæk, Nolan North, Tiernan Jones, Georgia Goodman, Steven Waddington & Joseph Balderrama
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13