May 21, 2022
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Life & Culture

Review: Game turned Film has some potential

"Uncharted"

Columbia Pictures

After spending over a decade in development, a film based on the critically-acclaimed PlayStation franchise, “Uncharted,”  has finally hit the big screen. Unfortunately, the movie never reaches greatness. But as the first entry in what Sony hopes will become a long-lasting franchise, it certainly does its job of showing its potential.

In “Uncharted,” Nathan “Nate” Drake (Tom Holland), a fortune-seeker with a vast knowledge of history, teams up with experienced thief Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) and thief-for-hire Chloe Frazer (Sophia Taylor Ali). Together, they search for the gold of explorer Ferdinand Magellan, which may also lead them to Nate’s long-lost brother.

For those entering “Uncharted” as fans of the games, the film is not a straightforward adaptation in the least. One of the largest creative liberties is the casting of Holland, who plays a much younger and inexperienced Nate than the adult version fans know. Luckily, Holland does a more-than-suitable job in the role, staying faithful to the original character’s charm and personality, while also finding ways to make Nate his own. Holland truly threw himself into this role and proves — quite possibly even more than in the “Spider-Man” films — that he is a capable action star. 

Ali provides a similarly engaging performance in the film, keeping in touch with many of the qualities that made her character so beloved in the games, like her wit and intelligence.

While Holland and Ali do as much as they can to preserve the best qualities of their original characters, Wahlberg made the choice to do the opposite. Where in the games, Sully is a mustache-sporting, cigar-chomping, gruff-voiced scoundrel, in the film he’s Mark Wahlberg. Although Wahlberg clearly puts his own trademark spin on the role, his Sully does admittedly have an enjoyable dynamic with Holland’s Drake, which was arguably the most important element that the film needed to get right.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer (“Venom”), the film doesn’t do anything to try to reinvent the wheel of the action genre. While it does include a few iconic set pieces lifted straight from the games, they don’t quite live up to their potential. Though they are entertaining, Fleischer is unable to imbue these sequences with the same sense of jaw-dropping spectacle that so many have experienced in the games. One can only imagine that if these sequences were helmed by a more inspired director they could have given some of the best sequences from a franchise like “Mission Impossible” a run for its money. 

Aside from directing, another element of the film that is mostly lacking is its writing. All three of the film’s villains are uninteresting and poorly written. The way events play out in the film, almost as if they happen by pure coincidence, is extremely lazy as well. 

When it comes to video game to movie adaptations, “Uncharted” is another entry on the long list of those that don’t quite get it right. Nonetheless, it doesn’t completely miss the mark, providing fans with just enough to keep them invested in this new take on the franchise while giving those who have had no prior experience with “Uncharted” an entertaining introduction to the property. Depending on where Sony chooses to take the franchise next, greatness may very well arise from this relatively lackluster beginning.