Review by Dan Skip Allen
Video game movies haven't done that well with fans or critics in the past, except Sonic the Hedgehog in 2020. Uncharted has been rumored to become a film for a while. Fans of the game have been critical of the casting of Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg because of their ages. After seeing the movie, I think their ages didn't matter, and they seemed very well cast to me. This film is much better if you don't know or have ever played the game.
The film is based on the characters Nathan Drake (Holland) and Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Wahlberg). They are treasure hunters. Sully rounds up Drake because of his relationship with his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow), who left when he was a teenager. Sully needs Nathan's help to uncover two gold crosses that will lead to a much bigger treasure that will make them both rich.
Uncharted is a mix of Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code. It has a lot of globe-trotting adventure while also having a bunch of clue solving and intellectual discussions from the pair of leads. The treasure once belonged to Ferdinand Magellan and his heirs, the Moncada family, specifically Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who would stop at nothing to get the treasure back. The two leads of the film, Holland and Wahlberg, have to fight off two formidable women in their hopes to rescue the treasure. Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) is a reluctant ally of the pair at times, and Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) is a ruthless killer trying to get the treasure for her employer.
Not having played any of the games before watching this film gave me a different perspective than most. I didn't have a preconceived notion of what this film should be before seeing it. I went in completely fresh. That was a good thing for me! The film has vibes of some great IPs from the past while also being a fun adventure film with great banter and chemistry from its two leads. It had a few big set pieces like a big action movie would have. And it has some back and forth dialogue from Holland and Wahlberg that makes it light and funny.
The film has a charm that makes you laugh at times, but it also has some major set pieces to keep you on the edge of your seat. One involving raising water was quite breathtaking. The fight scenes were excellent as well. With any big action film also comes visual effects. In this film, they were seamless. I didn't notice any scenes where the visual effects threw me out of the film. The opening sequence, which the director Ruben Fleischer went back to a couple of times during the film, was incredible. Yes, parts of it are in the trailer but seeing the entire sequence and how it was resolved within the context of the film was quite rewarding. It was a magnificent scene.
With any film like this comes verisimilitude. Does this story make sense? The script can be nonsensical in adventure films. I am here to say the story was well thought out and had a lot of common sense built into it by Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, and others. The games have stories to them, so the film has to have a believable story to follow along. This one has a very entertaining story. Along with the script comes a fantastic score by Ramin Djawadi. This score was loud and boisterous and created an atmosphere of tension while also bringing a flair of adventure, similar to the Indiana Jones theme by John Williams. This score was superb!
Uncharted was a lot of fun, and the chemistry between Holland and Wahlberg was fantastic. They may have been miscast in the eyes of some, but not me. I think having younger actors playing these two iconic video game characters is good because it will make them available for sequels in the future. This film doesn't need sequels, though, because it stands on its own as a throwback to classic adventure films of the 80s. It channels the Indiana Jones films with the action scenes, score, and banter between its two leads. Uncharted is the perfect film to break up the February doldrums.
Uncharted hits theaters on February 18.