“Uncharted” is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom, Zombieland) and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Chaos Walking), Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Deepwater Horizon), Antonio Banderas (Shrek 2, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard), Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy, The Wilds), and Tati Gabrielle (The Owl House, The 100). This film is based on the video game franchise of the same name and is about Nathan Drake who sets out on an adventure alongside Victor “Sully” Sullivan to find a fortune that has been lost for five centuries.
I have never played the “Uncharted” games. I know of them. I’ve seen particular images and cutscenes from them. I’ve just never had the time to sit down to play them. And it kind of ticks me off saying that because while I never had a PS3, when it comes to my consoles, I managed to acquire a PS4 several years ago as a Christmas gift, and I even just recently got a PS5. So despite my commitment to Sony over the years, I haven’t popped in “Uncharted” yet. But I also will note that I’m a busy man, I do not have time for video games. It’s the same thing with books. It’s not that I don’t like video games, but I sort of see video games the same way as television shows. If you want me to sit down and play one, there needs to be a real commitment factor. Again, I am amazingly committed to film, making other mediums feel less important. Since I mentioned books, I will have to make my usual apology to them. Movies are more fun! Sorry, books!
But with movie theaters trying to prove themselves as a reasonable escape within the confines of the pandemic era, it only seems appropriate that Sony would release a movie like this at this time. The little that I have seen of the “Uncharted” games did feel rather cinematic. And the very first scene of the film, which has Tom Holland flying in the air, did remind me of the little that I did see in the games. It had this extreme vibe that set the tone for everything going forward. Kind of like a video game. So the movie already kicked off to a positive start.
But this positive start doesn’t last long because when it comes to introducing the main characters, the setup feels rather clunky, and borderline unreal. Kind of like a video game.
If any of you remember the movie “Hardcore Henry,” I praised the movie for having a feel that I could probably experience only in a few cases. Video games being one of them. After all, it is set in the first person point of view. And when I was younger, I always wanted to adapt a particular video game into a film (I won’t say which one in case it ever ACTUALLY DOES HAPPEN). But looking back, I had all these ideas for camera techniques that would be reminiscent of the games, and I wonder if that’s now all a gimmick. Looking at “Uncharted,” I admire its efforts to bring a massively immersive, and I do mean immersive, experience. There are scenes in this film that are best experienced on the biggest screen you can find, and for that alone, you should shell out a few bucks to see it in the theater if interested, but maybe not above matinee price, or a subscription like A-List, which is what I previously used.
Sticking to that, much like a video game vibe, the climax is probably one of the most immersive and inviting I have seen in recent film. I’ve seen a number of climaxes recently that fit the material in which it tries to attach itself, but this is one that not only puts its characters in the most dangerous of situations, but also embraces what I hoped this movie would go for. A bit of far-fetchedness, but also enough to ensure your brain is still attached. But at the same time, there is also some moments where they jump the shark and my brain gets a bit cracked. You may have seen the part in the trailers where Tom Holland gets hit by a red car, it’s a bit over the top.
I feel like this film’s immersion factor is an enormous reason as to why it sometimes works. Because let’s be real, I am not going to claim that Nathan Drake is one of my favorite film characters. I like the guy playing him. I think Tom Holland has talent. But when translated to the final product, the film struggles to get me attached to its characters as much as it puts into its respective environments.
If I had to point out a favorite scene in the film, it’s actually one that appears in the trailers. Basically, Nathan Drake is in the middle of a mission, and out comes this heavier man, portrayed by Steven Waddington, who scares Drake s*itless. Then we get… This exchange. Well, maybe this exchange. Pardon me, I’m just a dumb American.
THE SCOTSMAN: “You shouldn’t have come out to play with the big boys wee in because you’re about to get a proper Scottish welcome.”
I lost it when first hearing this. Again, I’m just a dumb American, but as a dumb American, I acknowledge that the English language is understood in a variety of ways. From the perspective of my tiny little American brain, the Scottish accent is first off, hard to understand, and second, occasionally funny. So, I’ll give credit to the writers for nailing that aspect and Waddington for providing a seemingly over the top accent that had me laughing. I wanted to see more of him. Although I do want to know what Scottish people think of this. Is this humorous? Accurate? Offensive, maybe? I want to know.
Although going back to what I said earlier, there is one scene that the more I think about it, kind of irritates me. Because I understand that movies and their studios are supposed to pay the bills. But what irritates me is that this movie ends up using a forced, randomly placed instance of product placement within its main story. I was engaged during said scene, but I do not think this is the time to sell me “Papa John’s.” It does not go as extreme as the “Power Rangers” movie we got a few years ago with Krispy Kreme (although I like the money shot it brought), but the more I think about it, the more it distracts me.
“Uncharted” feels like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
“Uncharted” is a fun adventure with characters that have their own quirks. But relatively speaking, this ain’t no “Raiders.” Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg do their best with the material given to them, but their chemistry feels very off and on. There are a couple scenes where I can tell that these two have probably developed a friendship per se. But there are also other scenes where I don’t sense much realism between them.
In the end, “Uncharted” is a film that is good enough to please me for one or two viewings, but maybe not more. I heard that Tom Holland is a fan of the video games, therefore I am happy to know that he is playing a character that he possibly admires. But I can see why this film suffered as many delays as it did. It’s a film that feels like was made for the 21st century 3D era, in fact ideas for it were developed during that time, but it ends up coming out in 2022. I feel like Sony just wanted this movie to get out sooner than later because it’s practically been in development since 2008. Directors like David O. Russell (Three Kings, American Hustle), Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Divergent), Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch), Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Free Guy), and Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape, The Boys) were originally attached to helm the picture. Unfortunately these did not last, so we ended up with “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer. I also think the decision to get Tom Holland to play Nathan Drake was solid. As mentioned, he’s played the games, so he’s familiar with the material. But he also is on the younger side, so unlike say Nathan Fillion, who ended up appearing in an “Uncharted” fan film and is about twice the age of Tom Holland, Sony made a decision they thought was good for business. If “Uncharted” is successful, Tom Holland is young enough to keep playing the role should there be sequels. And would I want a sequel to “Uncharted?” Sure. I could watch another film in this franchise. But I would recommend maybe getting a different writing team. I’m going to give “Uncharted” a bare maximum 5/10, and I feel like that’s generous. I was genuinely entertained, but I also recognize that this movie was very clunky and could have done more, and that’s why I’m giving it the score it gets.
“Uncharted” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.
Thanks for reading this review! Next Sunday, March 13th, I am going to be sharing an all new first look at the upcoming 4th Annual Jackoffs! I am going to be announcing the nominations, and I’ll be dropping a trailer as to what you can expect for this grand, majestic awards ceremony! The ceremony itself is happening on March 27th, therefore it will be held the same day as the Oscars! So that’s another three hours of your life taken away! But I will still have content in between the announcement and ceremony such as upcoming movie reviews! Speaking of which, my next review is going to be for Netflix’s new movie, “The Adam Project,” which coincidentally, is directed by one of the folks I mentioned who was once attached to “Uncharted,” Shawn Levy! I already saw the film through a virtual screening, and it arrives on Netflix soon. I will have my full-fledged thoughts as soon as possible. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Uncharted?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played any of the “Uncharted” games? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!