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As someone who has played and loved the games themselves, I came into Uncharted with a degree of knowledge I often lack with video game adaptations. Plus, I admit I was initially wary of the apparent miscasting of Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg in parts they are too young for. But y’know what? For all the mixed reviews and criticism, I thought Uncharted was a pleasant surprise.
It has been a long road for an Uncharted movie, with work starting as far back as 2008, and since then there have been many on board and jumping ship before we arrived where we are now. Safe to say we have been conditioned to not have too high expectations when it comes to films inspired by games, with the benchmarks arguably being Pokemon Detective Pikachu, Rampage, Warcraft: The Beginning and Sonic The Hedgehog as things currently stand. However, Uncharted, while imperfect, is at least a product that feels too have affection for the material it is adapting (albeit somewhat more loosely at points).
This story sees young bartender Nathan Drake (Holland) run into seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Wahlberg), who offers him a job, the prize of which is not only the chance to find the hidden treasure of the Magellan expedition but to also answer the question of what happened to his long estranged brother Sam.
Cherry picking some elements of many of the games (from A Thief’s End to Drake’s Deception), sure its story is a mix of adventure yarns as widespread as Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and National Treasure but where originality is not in high quantities, the film compensates in a fun old fashioned trip to the flicks.
One which is nicely told and delivered, and features many loving references to the games themselves, one in particular that stands out. As well as well staged action set pieces, that make use of Chung-hoon Chung’s great cinematography, while also actually feeling akin to the games’ high risk escapes (and not just the money shot Uncharted 3 cargo plane sequence that has featured heavily in this film’s promotion). In fact I kept expecting button prompts to pop up at points. And there is no doubting the thrill that I felt when Ramin Djawadi’s fun score unleashed its own faithful take on Greg Edmonson’s “Uncharted Theme”.
Despite the misgivings of myself and many others, Holland was great and grew into the part of Nathan Drake really well, throwing himself into the physicality of the role, as did Wahlberg, who had fun playing this veteran wisecracking turn. I had great fun in their company and enjoyed their energy together, with Holland especially impressing.
Sadly the film is let down a bit by lacking villains, and some of the supporting cast don’t get to flourish as much as they could, due to director Ruben Fleisher needing to lay the foundations of this globetrotting adventure, but come the end, you get the impression we are off and away (as denoted by two credits sequences).
Overall, I found Uncharted to be a rather enjoyable blockbuster and a pretty darn fun adaptation of the games. If a franchise comes out of this (as is probably happening thanks to the film’s deserved success), I would happily join this Nate and Sully again on another treasure hunt, and that I did not expect would be the case!
A hugely shockingly entertaining movie that was one of the most downright unpretentiously enjoyable video game films in some time.
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