I can’t quite believe that I’m writing this, but the Uncharted movie might be the first video game film adaptation to get the formula right. It’s most certainly not going to win academy awards, nor is going to go down as the best movie of 2022. However, what it lacks in credulity, Uncharted makes up for in its unique character and awesome action set pieces.
Carving its own identity
Going into the Uncharted movie, I most certainly had my doubts. Casting Tom Holland as the wise cracking Drake seemed a bold move given his young age. The same goes for Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan. As a fan of the iconic PlayStation games, the two iconic characters form much of the game’s comedic chemistry. I just couldn’t visualise the sparks between Holland and Wahlberg.
Thankfully, my doubts were quickly dispelled. Holland is an excellent version of Nathan Drake, and he quickly proves himself in the opening moments of the movie. He instantly snaps back with wisecracks and flirty conversation among all whom he interacts with. It’s a younger take on the character, for sure. But it’s also a surprisingly mature performance from Holland. It’s difficult to see him as anything other than the teenage Peter Parker, but Holland does a great job of acting as someone representative of his own age for once.
It took me much longer to warm up to Wahlberg’s Sully. Especially in the first act, it seems like you can tell Wahlberg hasn’t seen much of the source material. It’s difficult to get a grasp of the wisdom and fatherly bond that Sully typically shares with Drake. However, Wahlberg does come into his own in the final few acts. I found myself growing to like Wahlberg’s interpretation of Sully a great deal.
Going into the Uncharted movie, it’s important to understand that it’s carving out its own identity. Sure, it takes immense inspiration from the games – but I appreciate what it does to differentiate itself. While Nolan North’s version of Drake will always be near and dear, Holland does a fantastic job of taking the character and making it his own.
Inspirations on its sleeve
If you’ve seen a typical treasure hunting movie in the last few decades or so, you can probably figure out where the Uncharted movie is going from the start. It’s full of all the tropes that you’d find in the movies that inspire it. So much so, that Indiana Jones is even name dropped during the movie’s ample 116-minute runtime. There are a few macguffins for our heroes to find, only for some of them to send the team on a wild goose chase around the globe.
With that said, there’s at least one twist that I didn’t see coming and it made the movie infinitely more interesting. Just when it feels like the movie is delving too deep into a caricature of itself, it corrects course in a largely refreshing way. It’s not something that happens frequently, but it’s certainly enough to keep you on your toes.
As such, Uncharted is a particularly pacey movie. Just like the games, it feels like the movie is split up into distinct chapters, all of which give the locations and characters time to breathe. We’re never left lingering in one spot longer than is necessary. The movie seemed to fly by, which is especially impressive since I was busting for the loo after the first act. Note to self – go easy on the free drinks at press screenings.
Press X To Smart Ass
Overall, what I liked the most about the Uncharted movie is that it embraces the fun of Uncharted. Where so many video game movie adaptations fall down is that they end up trying to ground their source material in realism. Uncharted does this to an extent, but goes fully off the wall by the end of the movie. There are plenty of large action set pieces that are dumb enough for you to simultaneously laugh at them, but also with them.
If there’s one thing that Uncharted does nail, it’s the tone. It’s got a sharp, quippy sense of humour in much of its dialogue, but it’s also intertwined into its action. Many of the action scenes are laced with physical comedy.
Speaking of which, fight scenes especially are brought to life by Holland’s enthusiastic acrobatic ability. The movie acknowledges that Drake is not an overly strong guy and relies on his wits to get out of situations. It’s hugely entertaining to watch Drake run rings around his opponents by using anything he can get his hands on. It’s no John Wick, but still great fun to witness.
While many of the jokes land, there are a few that sadly don’t. Most notable are the repeated attempted jabs at the Scottish accent which aren’t humorous and come across as lazy writing. It’s a minor blip on an otherwise excellent comedic compass.
Is the Uncharted Movie worth your time?
So, is the Uncharted movie worth your time? If you’ve never played any of the Uncharted games, I can see why you’d be less hot on this film than I am. At its core, it’s a fairly generic tale about a band of treasure hunters with some funny dialogue and impressive action set pieces.
However, if Uncharted is something that you’ve grown up with, you’re going to get a lot out of this film. There are Easter eggs aplenty, most of which don’t come across as too fan service-y. Beyond that, Uncharted does a fantastic job of marking out its own territory while remaining true to its source material. You’re not getting a retelling of the stories we know and love – it’s most certainly a new chapter for the series. But it’s a new chapter that I sincerely hope we see more of in the future. For Sony’s first attempt at a video game adaptation, it’s almost certainly knocked it out of the park.
Now do God of War.
Early screening tickets for Uncharted were provided to FragHero by Sony PR for review purposes.
Featured Image Credit: Sony Pictures