Uncharted (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Street-smart Nathan Drake, is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan, and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada.

My Take – Though I am not an avid gamer, I have been well aware of Naughty Dog’s massively popular and brilliantly executed PlayStation action adventure video game franchise ‘Uncharted‘, in which professional treasure hunter Nathan Drake globe-trots in search of priceless artifacts, searches every corner of the map for even more priceless information about his long-lost brother, and continuously kills faceless henchmen.

And hence, the series was particularly acclaimed for being cinematic, like its counterparts, it was always destined to become a film series too.

After roughly 15 years of development hell, the film adaption is finally here. And just as expected, the film is a simple, safe, but ultimately enjoyable introduction to the franchise. Here, director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Venom) and writers Rafe Lee Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg, Mark D. Walker, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway deliver a familiar yet entertaining mixture of fast-paced action and wholesome adventure, that even manages to squeeze in a new origin story and reenactments from the multiple entries, all in order to create decent fun sampling of what Nate and Sully can offer on the big screen.

Yes, while the action scenes are exciting and the quips are fun, and of course, Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg make for a likeable duo, but I do also understand the limited appeal of this film going the distance as there’s not much to this adaption that sets it apart from similar blockbusters like the Indiana Jones films, and the National Treasure duology.

Nevertheless, this film is exactly what you’d expect an Uncharted adaption to look like, and for all the baggage that it entails, it at least delivers on the fun element throughout.

Beginning with a brief prologue, the story follows Nathan Drake (Tom Holland), a young history-loving orphan descended of the famous explorer and privateer Sir Francis Drake, who spends his lonely life as a bartender and an occasional pickpocket while reminiscing about his estranged older brother Sam (Rudy Pankow), an adventure-seeker who over a period of time stayed in touch only by sending postcards from his journeys across the world.

But, his life changes when he meets Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), a seasoned fortune hunter who previously worked with Sam, and hopes to recruit Nathan and use his encyclopedia-like knowledge of history to search for the long-lost legendary cargo of gold carried by Ferdinand Magellan and his crew. Hoping that trail would lead him to find Sam as well, Nathan agrees, and are quickly joined by Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), a mysterious fellow fortune hunter.

To find it, the trio not only have to solve riddles and hundreds-year-old puzzles the crew scattered around the world to guard the loot, but must also contend with competing with Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), the heir of House Of Moncada, who believes the treasure rightfully belongs to him, and Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), Moncada’s hired mercenary who is very much willing to shoot and kill anyone in their way.

Despite having a pretty standard setup for a treasure hunt story, director Fleischer‘s adaption is the kind of video game film that playfully enjoys being a video game film and revels in how silly video game plots can get.

Here, director Fleischer and his writers Rafe Lee Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg, Mark D. Walker, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway approach the material with a light touch, occasionally pausing during intense fight scenes for a wisecrack or sight gag. Something which keeps the historical exposition dumps from bogging things down too much.

Even the story’s unoriginal elements are mitigated by a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that invites the viewers to relish the obvious cinematic reference points. Everything from ancient temple chambers with signature traps, like water floods and shot arrows, to aerial ship battles as helicopters transport centuries-old wooden vessels with working cannons, here, director Fleischer ensures that countless sequences feel at home within video game structures by throwing logic to the wind in favor of excitement, especially when recreating the ludicrous cargo plane crash.

The sequence only topped by an utterly ridiculous final act, which sees two helicopters engaged in aerial combat while transporting two wooden ships.

The film is big and loud in all the right ways, with an Indiana Jones glimmer to it all through winks and nods. It might not do much that the games haven’t already, but fans will enjoy a new Uncharted tale that at least brings its own flashy, death-defying treasure hunt into the fold, and serves as a good entry point for anyone who aren’t acclimated to the franchise.

Performance wise, though Tom Holland does not even remotely resemble his video game counterpart, he manages to be charismatic as ever, and displays an interesting mix of Peter Parker and Indiana Jones. Mark Wahlberg, mostly plays himself, and does a decent job playing a wise-cracking mentor to Holland. The two share fun chemistry, something which could be an excellent selling point for future entries.

Sophia Ali does a good job and her character makes for a good foil to Nathan’s innocence as her guile gets her what she wants and keeps both men on their toes. Unfortunately, Antonio Banderas makes for a colorless villain, and is just not on screen enough to make an impact. Instead, Tati Gabrielle is imposing as the lethal Braddock who rightfully amplifies tension whenever she steps into the frame. On the whole, ‘Uncharted’ is a safe but fun-filled adventure that offers some delightfully silly and infectiously entertaining blockbuster spectacle.

Directed –

Starring – Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Tati Gabrielle

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 116 minutes

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