Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Arad Productions, Atlas Entertainment, Playstation Productions
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Producers: Charles Groven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner, Ari Arad
Scriptwriters: Rafe Lee Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg, Mark D. Walker
Main Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Antonio Banderas
Running Time: 116 minutes
Release Date: February 18th 2022 (US)
It’s okay, Uncharted fans. You can come out from behind the sofa now. So, after more than a decade Uncharted dropped this weekend and it’s alright. While it mostly fails as an adaptation (which was the whole point of the film….) it is a fun stupid film that you’ll come across while surfing Netflix in a couple of years. Be warned, we are now heading into Uncharted territories which are full of SPOILERS! So, without further ado here is my review of the film.
The film opens with Nathan Drake (Holland) and Sam Drake attempting to rob a map of the Magellan expedition. Before Sam can be arrested, he runs away leaving Nate his ring (from their ancestor Sir Francis Drake) and promising he’ll return to him.
When Nathan met Sully
We then jump forward 15 years to see Nathan working in a bar and pickpocketing jewellery from patrons. It’s here that Nathan meets Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan (Wahlberg) , a fortune hunter who worked with Sam to track down Magellan’s treasure. Together they found Juan Sebastian Elcano’s diary (Yes, the real Elcano) which contained clues as to where the two keys were hidden. What do the keys do? Open pretty much every door on the way to the treasure.
Nathan and Sully then arrive at an auction where one of the keys (crosses) is. It’s here they run into Santiago Moncada (Banderas). He’s the last descendant of the Moncada Family who funded Magellan’s expedition. Nathan then pulls a distraction allowing Sully in disguise to take the key away from Moncada and Braddock (Gabrielle).
The Barcelona Expedition
Nathan and Sully then arrive in Barcelona to meet Chloe Frazer (Ali), an associate of Sully, who has the other cross. However, swerve! Chloe steals the cross from Nate who then convinces her to work together with them. We then see Moncada confronting his father who is donating the family fortune. Why? He thinks his son isn’t worthy of inheriting it. So, swerve! Moncada has Braddock kill his father. Meanwhile, Nathan, Sully and Chloe follow the clues to Santa Maria del Pi where the treasure is supposedly hidden.
Nathan and Chloe find a secret entrance and descend into a crypt where they quickly find themselves drowning. Sully then barely saves them after fighting off Braddock. Using both crosses as a key, Nathan and Chloe find a map that says the treasure is hidden in….. The Philippines. Then, swerve! Chloe betrays Nathan, steals the map and reveals she was hired by Moncada. Who saw that coming…..
Sully and Nathan catch a ride
Sully and Nathan reunite where Sully reveals the truth about what happened to Sam. During the recovery of Elcano’s diary, Sam was shot by Braddock while Sully narrowly escaped. Damn, I wonder if that’s sequel bait… Anyway, Sully and Nate sneak onto Moncada’s supply plane. Then, you know what happens swerve! Braddock kills Moncada. Consider me shocked…. Anyway, Braddock then attacks Nathan while Sully parachutes out of the plane. Nathan is then sent flying out of the plane by Chloe who drives a car into him.
Wow, that’s certainly one way to exit an aircraft. Chloe and Nathan then end up in the Philippines where they realise the map isn’t pointing to the treasure. Big shock there. Nathan then works out the real location but leaves decoy coordinates for Chloe, due to her uncertain loyalties. Nathan and Sully then both arrive at the Magellan ships in time for Braddock to airlift both of the ships.
Escaping the Braddock
During their escape, Sully commandeers a helicopter. Things then escalate rapidly when Braddock orders her men to board Nate and Sully’s ship. Nathan fights off the mercenaries and blows up the other helicopter with a cannon. However, Braddock jumps across and drops the anchor. Insert pirate joke here. Braddock then catches up to Nathan as he climbs towards the helicopter but Sully throws a bag of treasure knocking her off. If that wasn’t bad enough, Braddock then has a ship dropped on her. Damn… As Philippine naval vessels move in, Nathan reveals he stole a few pieces of treasure for Sully. Aww, how nice.
Is Uncharted a good adaptation?
To start my Uncharted analysis, I’m going to start with the obvious: does it succeed as an adaptation? Well to be blunt not really. So, why is that? Well, the first problem is Uncharted attempts to smash two games into one film, Uncharted 3 and 4. To people who haven’t played the games, it’s a mashup of pirate treasure hunting and finding a lost city. Wow, it’s literally like an adventure film…. So, while both games separately are great the film ends up being a weird hybrid switching between mid air pirate ship battles to much slower scenes.
However, whilst Uncharted isn’t the adaptation that fans hoped for, there are still some unmistakable Uncharted tropes. Like what? Well, the treasure hunting, puzzle solving and exotic locations all pay homage to the games series. But, some people might argue that this is the minimum amount of homage that enables this to be an Uncharted film. So, my takeaway from this is you can’t please anyone..
Swerves and Betrayals in Uncharted
Also, to continue my Uncharted analysis I’m going to discuss the overuse of that age old trick: the swerve betrayal. Sigh. Look, I know Uncharted is a series that features plenty of shock betrayals however Uncharted (the film) clearly studied Red Notice. How? Well, I’m sure every character in the main cast betrays someone else in the film at least once. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, when the film is just under 2 hours even Red Notice and Game of Thrones would tell you to take the betrayals down a level.
Seriously, take for example Braddock betraying Moncada. Besides a shock factor for the audience (but probably not Uncharted fans) what purpose does it serve to the overall narrative? I know I’m having an old man yelling at a cloud moment but please film studios stop overusing betrayals and swerves in action/adventure films. Otherwise, this is going to become like the boy who cried wolf very quickly…
Pacing in Uncharted
From the above analysis paragraphs you might be forgiven for thinking I hate the film but I really don’t. As much as Uncharted relies on swerves too much, there are some really positive moments. This leads to the final part of my analysis on Uncharted’s pacing. So whilst the film is a weird hybrid at points, the pacing keeps a very good tempo for the film. Take the sequence in Santa Maria Del Pi as an example. This sequence involves Nathan and Chloe exploring the crypts under the church.
Whilst this is one of the slower sequences, the pacing keeps the scene moving effectively so as not to bore the audience. This idea of good pacing is on display throughout the film as when the film jumps location from New York to Barcelona to the Philippines. When a film can pace that many changes in location well, it’s a good film. Well, alright in this case but that’s not the point.
To conclude my Uncharted review, this is a fun film which works as a well paced action adventure film but not really as a specific Uncharted adaptation. So, just another decent 2010s action/adventure film then…
Target Audience: 12+
Content Warning: Moderate violence, mild bad language
Overall Rating: 6/10 – Reasonable