Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 56 minutes, Director – Ruben Fliescher
Bartender Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) finds himself recruited by Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) as the perfect candidate to help track down 500 year old hidden pirate treasure.
It’s been a long journey for the Uncharted movie to come to the big screen. At one point Mark Wahlberg was on board to play central character Nathan Drake, now he plays older mentor Sully. Instead the shoes of the young explorer belong to Tom Holland. However, now on the big screen the journey itself perhaps doesn’t feel so long, even amongst all the globe-trotting that occurs throughout it. The reason for the various changes in landscape throughout the just under two hour run-time is the search for 500 year old pirate treasure. Deciphering clues and solving puzzles, occasionally with the help of Sophia Ali’s sometimes quickly sidelined for duo convenience Chloe Frazer, the pair certainly go on a fair share of set-piece adventures throughout the film, to find the gold that Nathan grew up hoping to find with his long-lost brother Sam (Rudy Pankow in an early flashback).
In the first act build-up to the actual adventure nature of the piece we move through events fairly quickly. While there’s still a dash of action and discovery it feels as if the film is certainly eager to travel the globe, while never overly rushing the process beforehand. We meet Antonio Banderas’ Santiago Moncada, who believes that the treasure, and the valuable crosses that will lead him to it, are rightfully his by birth; despite disagreement from his elderly father (Manuel de Blas) who dismisses his sons attempts and want to find the gold, and the ships which hold it, worth billions. Despite being pitched as the core villain of the piece Banderas gets little screen-time, and barely a true villain moment or speech. The film is certainly more concerned with Holland and Wahlberg’s conflicting views on teamwork, and indeed Moncada’s henchmen who do most of his work for him – particularly Tati Gabrielle’s Braddock and Steven Waddington simply credited as The Scotsman, the name pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the character in this context; and his dialogue shows this.
It certainly doesn’t feel as if Uncharted is trying to be an Indiana Jones tribute or knock off of any sorts. The general feel throughout is a standard adventure flick with a handful of tricks, traps, riddles and puzzles to run into along the way. Action certainly comes more into play in the second half, not to mention the rather silly third act fight although there’s no denying it’s enjoyability, and it’s here where there’s a slight character change for Holland. Going from his, potentially slightly typecast, bartender Nate going along for the adventure and not always knowing what to do, to a more battle-ready, tactical version of the character. The feeling isn’t that he’s been miscast, more that there’s a noticeable, almost instant after one particular event around halfway through, shift in the character that makes him feel like quite a different person. Such a feeling is perhaps more prominent when it comes to Nathan’s (or, as he goes by, Nate) relationship with Sully. Not so much a mentor, but more a buddy relationship between a slight newbie and a more experienced adventurer, Wahlberg doing a decent job of capturing this (although not as aged or experienced as the Sully in the games apparently is – which I have to confess to not having played much of).
Yet, despite some character shifts and changes throughout the film, not just from Holland’s central figure, there’s still a fair deal to enjoy and get lightly caught up in when it comes to the general adventure nature of the film. The set-pieces go by relatively quickly and while not always the most complex in execution the film seems to not be striving to be anything expansive and grand in terms of its narrative. However, this does begin to create a more standard feel to the piece. One not quite wanting to push itself or go a full distance in worry of spilling over, particularly in more action-based scenes, aside from the finale; the ridiculousness of which is almost worth the price to get in alone. But, for what Uncharted does provide, there’s a quick and still engaging adventure flick that might not be anything groundbreaking, but still provides plenty of amusement for the time that it’s on to make it an enjoyable enough globetrotting watch.
Despite some big character shifts in the second half of the film there’s still an enjoyable nature to Uncharted as its key draws lie within its puzzles and adventure rather than its more narrative or action based scenes, where it never quite pushes itself beyond a relatively standard feel.