Written by Jack Ransom
Video game adaptations have been mixed recently, with Mortal Kombat & Sonic the Hedgehog proving very successful (despite neither rising above ‘okay’) and Monster Hunter and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City immediately dropping off the radar as soon as they arrived. Whilst it still doesn’t deliver the genuinely great live action video game adaptation we are all still waiting for, Uncharted still provides a frequently rollicking and fast paced adventure that is hard not to enjoy.
Based on the hugely popular PlayStation video game franchise of the same name. Uncharted sees the street-smart Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) get recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) in a race against the wealthy businessman Moncada (Antonio Banderas) and his ruthless accomplice (Tati Gabrielle) to recover a fortune amassed and then lost 500 years ago.
Uncharted doesn’t outright adapt any of the franchise instalments, instead it picks and chooses particular sequences to incorporate into its own story. Said story is a largely familiar treasure hunting affair that you will have seen plenty of times before, though it gets the job done and is paced extremely quickly, which works simultaneously for (capturing the location hopping level progression of the games) and against (extremely rushed character meetings and the Drake brothers’ story investment). The film also nails the backstabbing and constantly suspicious nature of a thief’s line of work, and crafts a fun sense of unpredictability that will keep you guessing who could turn on who next at any moment.
The biggest worry going into this was how much it would capture the tone and personality of the games. Thankfully for the most part the spirit of the franchise is extremely prominent, especially when it comes to the action. From chaotic bar brawls (Drake’s takedown of the bloke in the underground rave behind the highlight of the small scale scrappy fights), to the genuinely fantastic plane set piece, which is an absolute rush of an experience and rightly deserves to be at the forefront of the promotion, and lastly the gloriously over-the-top destructive sky clash between two airborne ancient pirate ships is certainly a unique finale set piece. Visually the film may not be particularly distinct or feature standout cinematography, but the myriad of locations and bold colour palette keep it visually arresting.
The casting of the two leads has been the subject of skepticism since they were both announced, especially Wahlberg who looks nothing like the Sully we all know and love. However I was pleasantly surprised with both he and Holland throughout the majority of this. Holland still can’t escape the Peter Parker persona and some of the harder edged dialogue he doesn’t quite nail. Though there are moments he delivers that are pure Nate, whether it be through facial inflections and line delivery. He nails the cocky swagger and occasionally bumbling nature of the role very effectively. Wahlberg also captures the greed fuelled yet good hearted attitude of Sully and the chemistry between he and Holland is spot on. Unfortunately Antonio Banderas is largely wasted and is utterly generic in his motivations and portrayal. Sophia Ali captures the smart, snarky and unpredictable nature of Chloe and Tati Gabrielle is a persistent force as Braddock.
Uncharted may not reinvent the wheel in terms of its plot and visual presentation. The plot is simplistic and the characters are carried substantially by their respective performers. However the pacing, bombastic and energetic set pieces, rip-roaring enthusiasm of the tone and faithfulness to the spirit of the series, lands at the top of the video game adaptation pile.