Based on the popular Naughty Dog video game franchise, Uncharted is directed by Ruben Fleischer (the Zombieland films, Venom) and written by the screenwriters that brought us Chuck, Transformers: The Last Knight, and Men In Black: International.

Source: Uncharted

The film follows a 25-year-old Nathan Drake (played by Tom Holland) as he mostly pick pockets to his heart’s content and bartends to have a place to land his obnoxiously witty catchphrases.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the not-nearly-old enough Victor “Sully” Sullivan, a treasure hunter that seems to know everything and everyone and yet everyone hates him and never listens to a word he says. Sully hand picks Drake to help him find Magellan’s gold, which he’s right on the cusp of discovering if Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) and the House of Moncada don’t beat them to the punch first.

If the film does anything right, it absolutely gives you the urge to play the Uncharted video games again. The video games had a way of intertwining riveting storytelling, incredible action sequences, and monstrously fun interactive gameplay that made each of the four games absolutely essential entertainment.

The voice cast is fantastic, as well. Having Nolan North cameo in the live action film was a bit like rubbing salt in a wound that has yet to heal.

Sophia Taylor Ali, Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg star in Columbia Pictures’ UNCHARTED. photo by: Clay Enos

Other than that, the Uncharted live-action film is boring and the exact opposite of the video game franchise it’s based on. You never really buy Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg as Nathan Drake and Sully.

The jokes of the film fail to ever really land properly. Most of the dialogue is devoted to sounding like a history lesson or lecture and being just as exciting. Holland mostly does parkour-esque maneuvers whenever possible, but is basically a version of Nathan Drake where all of Drake’s humor and enthusiasm has been sucked dry.

Tom Holland and Sophia Ali as Nathan Drake and Chloe Frazer in Columbia Pictures UNCHARTED.

The film constantly jabs at Sully’s age, but Mark Wahlberg isn’t old enough and doesn’t look old enough for these jokes to feel relevant. Yes, the film is a prequel to the Nathan Drake we know in the games so everyone is younger.

But making geriatric jokes about Sully’s bad ankle, needing glasses, and having too many apps open on his phone while Wahlberg is barely over 50 doesn’t have the sting a seasoned veteran like Sully should have. This isn’t Sully. It’s just expressionless Mark Wahlberg digging for gold.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Sully in Columbia Pictures’ UNCHARTED.

Slapping his signature mustache on in the film’s second after credits sequence also feels a bit cheap for fans. It seems like Wahlberg forgot to show any sort of emotion during his performance in Uncharted whereas Holland at least has a sequence or two where he tries to act.

It’s also funny how the action sequences involving Wahlberg have more edits and cuts compared to when Tom Holland is by himself. At this point, you wouldn’t be surprised if Wahlberg had a stuntman for his mustache.

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake in Columbia Pictures UNCHARTED.

The cargo plane action sequence is the highlight of Uncharted and it still doesn’t compare to anything in the games. In true Uncharted fashion, we see this sequence twice. The film references Uncharted 2, 3, and 4, but these are essentially Easter eggs with no substance or value.

There’s no chemistry amongst the cast. Antonio Banderas is totally wasted in the film. Imagine watching Indiana Jones if he didn’t have any sort of charisma or a National Treasure film without Nicolas Cage. That’s Uncharted; a treasure hunt where the only prize is filler and Mark Wahlberg carrying a cat in a backpack.

Antonio Banderas in Columbia Pictures’ UNCHARTED. Photo by: Clay Enos

Uncharted as a film should have gone The Adventures of Tintin route and be a CGI animated film with the cast from the video games.

With Netflix experimenting with certain films and animated shorts being interactive, expanding that idea in theaters with an Uncharted film (maybe by a majority/poll option and advertising that there were x amount of endings and story options that could be discovered) would have injected this underwhelming experience with something potentially exciting.

Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Drake (Tom Holland) search for treasure in Columbia Pictures’ UNCHARTED.

The Verdict

Uncharted is a gold mine filled with disappointment. It has extraordinary source material that is squandered, soured, and spit on throughout the course of this lackluster film. The performances are forgettable, the action is half-hearted at best, and the writing somehow left the entertaining aspect of Nathan Drake’s legacy on the cutting room floor. Nathan Drake and the Uncharted franchise deserves so much better.

Uncharted Review: Staleness From Bland Beginnings
  • The cargo plane sequence.
  • Literally everything else.
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