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‘Uncharted’ review

Film adaptations of video games rarely succeed. Finding a balance to keep fans happy while satisfying newcomers is tough. Over the years there have been some truly terrible attempts to bring games to the big screen. Thankfully some recent efforts seem to have improved. With a string of successful PlayStation games to draw from, could Uncharted finally break the curse and deliver a worthy adaptation?

Fans of the Uncharted series have had a long wait for this film to arrive. It’s been in the works since 2008 and the script has been re-written many times. Over the years there have been many different directors and actors linked to the project. For me, and many other fans, the obvious choice to play Nathan Drake was Nathan Fillion. The actor looks a lot like Drake and has campaigned to fans to support him in securing the role. Fillion even starred in a short Uncharted fan-film back in 2018 which received a very positive reception. Despite Fillion’s efforts, Sony eventually took a gamble and settled on Tom Holland (Spider-Man: No Way Home) for the role.

Uncharted
Credit: Sony Pictures UK / Clay Enos

First up it’s worth mentioning that Uncharted doesn’t try to recreate the story of the games. Instead it acts as an origin story of sorts to show us how Drake was recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). He wants his help to track down the lost gold of Ferdinand Magellan.

Drake appears reluctant but quickly changes his mind and their adventure begins with a heist. This takes place at an auction, a bit like the one in Uncharted 4. Here they cross paths with villain Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) before heading off round the world in search of the gold. Their journey also sees them competing with Moncada’s lieutenant, Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) and Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) – a character that players of the game will be familiar with.

Uncharted
Credit: Sony Pictures UK / Clay Enos

I found the casting of Holland and Whalberg (who was also set to play Drake at one point) to be off. While I understand that this is a prequel to the games, these actors are too different from the characters fans have grown to love. Holland comes across too much like Spider-Man’s Peter Parker and he feels out of place and too young for this role. Whalberg also seemed a poor choice for Sully which left the relationship between the pair just feeling a bit odd.

I was excited to see Banderas as a villain but felt his talent was completely wasted here. His character only had a small part to play. Better performances were delivered by Ali and Gabrielle whose characters constantly keep Drake and Sully on their toes. However the character of Chloe was again a bit different to the games.

Uncharted
Credit: Sony Pictures UK / Clay Enos

On the whole Uncharted is entertaining and it feels like a mix of films like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and The Goonies. This does lead to things feeling a bit familiar at times but the action set-pieces really are quite spectacular. A version of the cargo plane sequence from Uncharted 3 is great fun. The finale also involves a battle with flying pirate ships!

Uncharted had plenty of promise and should have been a sure-fire smash hit for Sony. Sadly due to poor casting and a troubled development the result is a fairly average action-adventure. Newcomers will probably enjoy it the most but I expect fans of the games are likely to come away disappointed. Make sure you do stick around after the credits though as there’s a nice setup for a potential sequel. If it happens hopefully they’ll listen to the feedback from fans and learn from the mistakes made in this first outing.

Uncharted
Credit: Sony Pictures UK

Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Taylor Ali, Tati Gabrielle and Antonio Banderas Director: Ruben Fleischer Writer: Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway Certificate: 12A Duration: 116 mins Released by: Sony Pictures Release date: 11th February 2022

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Greg Ellwood
Greg Ellwoodhttp://www.entertainment-focus.com
Greg is the Deputy Editor of Entertainment Focus. He writes about Games, Tech and TV. You can find him on Xbox/PSN/Steam as Tahllian.

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