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Review: 'Uncharted' lays a shaky ground for future sequels

Sony's golden boy Tom Holland adventures as Nathan Drake in 'Uncharted' (2022)

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"Their adventures take them on a globe-trotting journey filled with the iconic over-the-top set pieces and action sequences present in the games the movie takes inspiration from. These sequences are, without a doubt, the best parts of the film."


"Uncharted" has always been a series about high-octane action, larger-than-life set pieces and over-the-top treasure hunting adventure. The formula has been overwhelmingly successful, with PlayStation green-lighting three sequels to the original 2007 Playstation exclusive game.

Nathan Drake is a staple of Sony's game library and now, the company is hedging its bets on his success as a staple of the silver screen.

The film starts with Nathan Drake, played here by Sony's golden boy Tom Holland, working as a bartender in New York City. He’s down on his luck, pickpocketing his patrons and dreaming of finding the long-lost explorer Magellan's treasure.

Drake is working one night when approached by Mark Wahlberg's Victor "Sully" Sullivan, who, much like Drake, has a dream of finding Magellan's treasure. Sully offers Drake a job, and with some convincing, the two join forces to hunt for the fabled treasure.

Their adventures take them on a globe-trotting journey filled with the iconic over-the-top set pieces and action sequences present in the games the movie takes inspiration from. These sequences are, without a doubt, the best parts of the film.

The duo's whereabouts are never boring as they hop from ancient underground tunnels, stunning tropical vistas and even dueling pirate ships suspended in the air by cargo helicopters barreling over the open seas. Yes, that actually happens. And while it may sound absolutely ridiculous, it's a direct embodiment of the DNA that made the games so popular.

In fact, the film pays several homages to the original games, pulling one scene straight from "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception." 

In that entry, Drake fought off his enemies while grappling a set of cargo boxes while those boxes hung out the back of a cargo plane. The scene translates well to the big screen and serves as an impressive attempt at recreating the games in real time.

While the film wholeheartedly presents itself with the look and feel of the source material, it suffers a bit more in the delivery of the characters presented. Holland, while charming and popular, wasn’t the best choice for Nathan Drake.

Holland's typical boyish attitude doesn’t work for the franchise’s titular character. Drake has always been older, rugged and experienced in his field. While a younger version of the character could be a unique way to watch a transition into that iconic character, it likely won’t pan out in a satisfying way.

Tom Holland doesn't age. Due especially in part to his casting as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Holland is trapped in a perpetual state of being a 17- to 22-year-old kid. This works for Spider-Man, but it does not work for Nathan Drake.

Holland may need to age a bit, or grow further into the role, to convincingly play Drake in the future. 

Wahlberg was also a bit of an odd choice for Sully. Sully, once again much like Drake, is an older and more seasoned adventurer. Wahlberg didn't grow out Sully’s iconic mustache and he too seems a bit young to be playing the character.

Despite the odd ages however, Wahlberg and Holland have good chemistry and build a solid foundation for the future. In fact, it could be argued that this movie doesn’t do much more than set up future films.

Overall, the first "Uncharted" movie in this likely sequel-spawning franchise is a lot of flawed fun. The set pieces and action sequences are fun to look at and to watch. Holland and Wahlberg play well together and, toward the end of the film, show themselves coming into the true characterizations of Sully and Drake.

It'll be interesting to watch further entries in the film franchise to see if Sony can finally bring video game movies into mainstream limelight.


Reach the reporter at trricha2@asu.edu and follow @therrealtristan on Twitter.

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