“Uncharted” has trouble finding its footing

Ian Lloyd, Staff Writer

“Uncharted” is the newest film adapted from a video game franchise. The game series of the same name is well known for its inclusion of cinematic set pieces inspired by series like “Indiana Jones” and “James Bond.”

Tom Holland stars as Nathan Drake in the new film adaptation of “Uncharted.” The first game in the series released in 2007, with the most recent game released in 2017. (Photo Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

After three decades of video game adaptations, there have been few films to achieve financial success or critical success. “Uncharted” has the potential to achieve cinematic mastery, but it could easily fall into obscurity like most of the video game movies that have come before.

Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is a modern thief who steals for sport instead of greed. He and his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) grew up in an orphanage where they found an interest in adventure and archaeology before his brother left to travel the world. 

Now fifteen years older, Drake meets the infamous thief, Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). Sully recruits Drake on a quest to find the lost treasure and Sam. 

The duo embarks on an adventure while avoiding adversaries and making untrustworthy allies. They search the catacombs of Barcelona and wreck prestigious auction ceremonies to get closer to their goal. Along the way, their relationship is tested since everyone is eager to betray one another. Drake has to push himself to find the truth of his missing brother and beat bad guys along the way.

The story of “Uncharted” is fairly simple and is mostly a tool to bring us fun action sequences. These elements are engaging and fun to experience. Despite this, the overall plot falls short and isn’t quite as interesting as the thrilling action set pieces. The characters have little depth and motivations that feel cliché and worn out. The storyline ends up feeling more like an excuse to watch cool stunts and fight choreography than a significant element of the film.

Holland appears much younger than the more grizzled Drake from the games. This jarring youthfulness does ease up after a while, and we get to see Holland try his best at fitting into this iconic role. His interpretation of the character is one of the more compelling aspects of this film as he lends himself well to the action sequences.

His co-lead, on the other hand, is a bit worse for wear. Wahlberg never fully sells his role as Sully, and the film works best when he is out of the story. 

“Uncharted” is constantly holding the audience’s hand to guide them from scene to scene. Every single detail has to be clearly shown or told to make sure no one gets confused. There is no room for ambiguity or even simple inference. This style of filmmaking creates an experience that is devoid of critical thought or room for subtlety.

“Uncharted” brings us adventure without depth. It takes us to gorgeous vistas and shows us creative set-pieces without delivering any actual themes or thought-provoking ideas. This film is a failure of an adaptation. It doesn’t add anything new to the adventure genre the games originally paid homage to. It’s a lifeless blockbuster that will soon be forgotten until the eventual sequel pokes its head. I give this disappointing thrill ride a two out of ten.

Video game movies are still struggling to find their voice. After multiple decades of lukewarm adaptations, “Uncharted” fails to explore new grounds in that sub-genre.