Uncharted Review

So I watched Uncharted…

I know I’ve learnt this lesson a thousand times and, in all honesty, I’ll probably have to learn it a million times more – never judge a movie by its trailer. I knew I was going to watch this movie but its trailer and some interesting casting choices had me delaying the experience as much as I could. A delay that ultimately proved unnecessary as this movie is a barrel of fun.

Okay, basic plot: Nathan Drake (Tom Holland), a descendant of explorer Sir Francis Drake, is living out a meager experience as a pickpocketing bartender. Drake gets pulled into the world of high-stakes relic hunting when Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) recruits him to search for the lost treasure of the Megallen Expedition. Little does Drake know that Sullivan is more than he seems and is holding on to a secret about Drake’s long-lost brother.

About a year ago I finished a marathon gaming experience playing every Uncharted game. They’re very enjoyable and if you have a Playstation, I’d highly recommend them. So when I heard this movie was coming out I was excited and somewhat confused. Confused because when I think seasoned, globe-trotting, mountain-climbing explorer, Nathan Drake, I don’t think Tom Holland. Similarly when I think veteran, smooth-talking, wise-guy Sully, I don’t think Mark Wahlberg. This departure from expectation was the foundation for what made this movie work so well. In any adaptation, whether it be of a book, video game or TV series, filmmakers often get bogged down trying to turn the source material into a movie rather than trying to make a movie based on the source material. Now those might sound like identical goals but in one, the movie functions as a movie and tells a familiar story; while in the other, the movie tries to be something it can never be and ends up failing to bring the story to life.

Now while I did initially find the casting choices a bit odd, in the context of the story this movie is trying to tell, they’re genius. Holland and Wahlberg have great comedic chemistry. My favourite scenes of the movie were always ones where the two are sharing banter and building the relationship that we know so well from the games. Holland seems like the go-to-guy if you want to build a franchise right now. He’s athletic, charming, handsome but in a down-to-earth way and most importantly (this might sound like an insult but I don’t mean it as one) he’s not a very good actor. His performance in this film is virtually indistinguishable from his turn as Peter Parker in the MCU – he has one note and he plays it well. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re going to be a franchise builder. Think of Will Smith (pre-Pursuit of Happyness), Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel – they’re always playing pretty much the same character, hitting one note. That note, however, is the cha-ching of the cash register so more power to them.

Wahlberg also does well, hits his one note and does everything you’d expect from a veteran star. This movie might not be original but it follows the recipe on how to make a successful blockbuster perfectly. It’s a seamless blend of the adrenaline-pumping, unbelievable action from the Playstation game series and the tried-and-tested formulaic blockbuster. I also loved how the movie created that atmosphere of countless double crosses and fleeting trust which was always an element I enjoyed in the games. I had a great time watching it and will probably continue to have fun when I revisit it in future viewings.

The one piece of acting that really stood out for me was Tati Gabrielle as Jo Braddock – a mercenary competing with Drake and Sully to get the treasure. She’s evil in all the best ways. This is a sharp contrast to the last performance of hers I enjoyed which was her in the Netflix series, You. The character she plays in that show is a polar opposite to her role in this movie and it was just fantastic to see.

Overall, Uncharted is FUN and sometimes that’s all you want or need from a movie. I left the movie happy, entertained and with a smile on my face so job well done to everyone involved. 7/10

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