Sic Parvis Magna or translated from Latin means greatness from small beginnings. It’s the motto inscribed on a ring held close that follows the Indiana Jones inspired tomb raider as he searches for lost cities and stolen fortunes across the globe hoping for a chance to live up to the name he was born with – Nathan Drake (Tom Holland). As a superfan of the game since Drakes Fortune like many others the expectation is high for a big screen adaptation. The series in which the film is based on is already a cinematic experience but the translation to film doesn’t add much to what the 4 games previously accomplished.
What do you expect? Video game adapted movies don’t live up to the source material. The couple exceptions being Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Director Ruben Fleischer, known for Zombieland & Venom doesn’t necessarily make a bad film, Uncharted takes many elements from the source material, mainly the set pieces from Drakes Deception and A Thief’s End and sprinkles in easter eggs that fans of the series will point out with ease. The problem is the adaptation doesn’t boast well as an Uncharted story or continuation or extension of what we all have come to love. Don’t worry, the easter eggs aren’t shoved down your throat, made to save a sinking ship, when the time comes, they are rather delightful surprises.
I’d rather play the game than watch a film based on the game. Fleischer if anything made the adventures worth revisiting after the credits rolled and the two scenes post film finish.
Picking up mid familiar set piece, Nate is caught by his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) in a flashback to the two living in an orphanage. Sam leaves Nate to go on the run from the police after the two are caught attempting to steal a world map of Magellan’s expedition. The first world map made post expedition. This is where the Drake motto holds the most weight within this version of the universe. Nate believing he’s destined for greatness, reluctantly teams up with Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to find the lost fortune worth billions and get answers to Sam’s whereabouts. Only, this version of Sully cannot be trusted at all, there is no cigar to light the torches in the dark caverns.
Without the gravitas of the name attached to the film, Uncharted is another generic adventure film that has been done countless times before. Because of the name, fans of the series that concluded with A Thief’s Endshould venture out and see it regardless – the DNA is there, it just so happens to be a watered-down version. Not once during the 116-minute film does Mark Wahlberg feel like the Sully fans have come to know and adore. He’s completely miscast in the role after being heavily rumored to play Nate. While on the other hand, Tom Holland, fresh off Spider-Man: No Way Home carries the film on his back as it limps from one continent to the next dealing with lies, backstabbing and dangerous enemies.
The dangerous enemies being Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) as a ruthless treasure hunter billionaire claiming ownership of the lost treasure and his hired gun Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle). Neither of the two are given fair treatment in the script written by Rafe Lee Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg & Mark D. Walker. They just exist in the world to cause setbacks to Nate, Sully and Chloe (Sophia Ali). And depending on the scene one of the two are backstabbing Nate. The game would never pit Sully against Nate or Chloe, the three were always on the same page.
I didn’t feel the joy and happiness of discovery, the rush of adrenaline Nate gets – Uncharted uses the adventure as mere convenience. Everything is put right in front of Nate, Sully and Chloe as if some random person could solve the puzzle too. It’s almost too easy. Where is the difficulty, the intelligence and knowledge of history? Its either subdued or pushed to the background. Add to that is the environment, the detail that everyday people would miss. every location should feel like its own planet to discover. Uncharted just doesn’t capture the spirit of its source material but it’s still a fun ride to go on – whether you’re a fan of the game or have zero prior knowledge. Tom Holland does his best with a subpar script that leaves with more questions then answers.
A game of helicopter chicken with two pirate ships in midair? Sign me up, what’s not to get giddy about? While the story leans more generic Uncharted is just the beginning. PlayStation Productions must have confidence that the film will do well based on how popular the IP is and there’s a hope it does well to secure a sequel development. But the bad cannot be understated. None of the stars have chemistry together – Chloe and Sully are shells of the potential their characters offer. It’s only till the final sequence that Tom and Mark feel like the dynamic duo – it comes too little too late.
I wanted to like Uncharted more than I did, especially as a fan. The adaptation just doesn’t work. Every scene doesn’t feel like we’re discovering something to push the adventure forward. It’s one big set piece followed by the next. The best part about an Uncharted game is the adventure and the discovery of a new clue that pushes the story forward, its why the game is so highly regarded and considered one of the best franchises ever made. Fleischer’s set pieces are ambitious taking what we know and tweaking them to fit the story being told. All the fighting and action sequences are ripped from the game and are choreographed well but Nate doesn’t feel like Nate – he’s tossed around like a rag doll when he is able to hold his own in a fight. Am I the only one that missed the constant climbing? The rush of moving from one ledge to the next and not knowing if it will crumble and Nate will plummet to his death.
It’s saying something where the mid-credit scene feels more Uncharted than the entirety of the film does.
Written By: Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Music By: Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography: Chung-hoon Chung
Starring: Tom Hollan, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle
Release Date: February 18, 2022
Running Time: 1 Hour 56 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
My Score: 2.5 out of 5
Based On: Uncharted by Naughty Dog