Uncharted Movie Review 1
Image: Sony Pictures

Watching the credits roll on Uncharted feels like closure in a lot of ways. We’ve been writing about this movie since the site’s inception in 2009, which ironically is roughly the same year a pre-pubescent Tom Holland was photographed prancing around in a Spider-Man costume, praying that he’d one day get the opportunity to portray Peter Parker on the big screen. Having set the Box Office ablaze late last year with Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sony Pictures’ go-to guy has been roped back in for PlayStation Productions’ debut project. But while this glossy green screen spectacle packs plenty of action into its sub-two hour running time, we’re not entirely sure who it’s for.

With its 2007 PlayStation 3 exclusive Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and subsequent successors, developer Naughty Dog’s primary ambition was to create a summer blockbuster you could control. But by taking the DualShock away, this globe-trotting origin story treads a very familiar path to the likes of Indiana Jones and National Treasure. It all ends up feeling a little too familiar, and while Holland strikes a fine balance as the film’s protagonist – the narcissistic-heart-of-gold-petty-thief named Nathan Drake – the rest of the cast fail to fill their roles with anywhere near as much conviction.

If you’ve played the games, then you’ll know roughly what to expect from the storyline: legend speaks of a long-lost treasure, and through a combination of impossible problem-solving and sheer luck, it’s up to Drake to locate it. Mark Wahlberg stars as mentor Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan, but fans may be disappointed to learn that his first encounter with Nate is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, and within minutes the pair are hijacking an auction (hello, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End), before jetting off to Barcelona – amid plenty of telegraphed banter, of course.

This perhaps speaks to the biggest flaw of the film: there’s nothing fresh here for existing fans, and we’re not convinced the characters are engaging enough to hook newcomers either. Chloe Frazer, played by Sophia Ali, is in-and-out of the story as the dizzying plot twists dictate, and subsequently she never really finds her voice like in Naughty Dog’s titles. The movie does effectively capture the uneasy alliance between this ragtag cluster of criminals, and Wahlberg’s comedic timing is generally on point – even if you get the feeling he’s a little envious of playing second-fiddle to Holland’s hero.

Uncharted Movie Review 3
Image: Sony Pictures

Despite the obvious shortcomings, though, this isn’t a disaster like video game adaptations of the past. As a glitzy rollercoaster ride around the globe, Uncharted features some beautiful backdrops, and the special effects are pristine throughout. Interestingly, the film leans on a mish-mash of set-pieces from Naughty Dog’s adventures, including the breathless cargo plane scene from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, which bookends the beginning and middle acts of the movie. Then there’s an all-new action sequence involving flying pirate ships – we won’t divulge too much, but it’s chaotically shot and an entertaining finale.

Still, while the stakes are ratcheted up relatively quickly, you never particularly feel like Drake is in peril – perhaps because none of the villains ever seem all that threatening to begin with. Antonio Banderas hams it up as wealthy megalomaniac Moncada, while the most menacing thing about Tati Gabrielle’s Braddock is her bleached blonde hair. In the movie’s defence, this has always been an issue in the games as well: Lazarevic from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is best remembered for being killed by trees, and we awarded that game a 10/10, so a couple of weak antagonists aren’t really the end of the world.

Perhaps, then, you just have to take Uncharted for what it is: an explosive joyride through idyllic backdrops with plenty of eye-candy (Holland spends at least a fifth of the film with his shirt off, and it’s clear he’s been living on a diet of Grenade bars and fried chicken judging by the size of his chest). Unfortunately, existing fans are unlikely to come away feeling like they’ve learned anything new, while we can’t imagine too many newcomers will be taking a detour to pick up Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection on their return home from the theatre.

Does that mean it’s terrible? No, far from it: it will sit neatly alongside Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider as a perfectly serviceable adaptation – perhaps with questionable casting. But if the film fails to grow the franchise and stumbles at fulfilling existing fans, then is PlayStation Productions really serving its purpose here?

Did you see Uncharted yet? What were your thoughts on it if so? Do you think this franchise has potential for Sony Pictures, and what direction would you like to see a sequel take? Find out more about the film’s post credits scene through the link, and let us know in the comments section below.

How would you rate the Uncharted movie?