This PlayStation movie version has more fun and less story.
I’m not much of a video gamer, but the reason why I’m familiar with the “Uncharted” games is because I have a friend who has a Twitch account, and she streamed her gaming abilities. I was watching her play, and it was fun seeing adventurer Nathan Drake trying and failing and then trying and succeeding to not go down the waterfall and avoid the gunmen. Nolan North was excellent in the voice role of him. And it was also touching to see Nathan and his mentor and father figure Victor Sullivan, or Sully for short, mature throughout the games. It was one of the better moments during the lockdown.
You could say the Twitch streams were just a warmup for the movie version, which stars Tom Holland as Nathan and Mark Wahlberg as Sully. I’m in the middle of it, because it has action and likable performances from the two leads, but the story isn’t as rousing as it should have been. The video game franchise has been inspired by a number of adventure films, obviously like “Indiana Jones,” but there should have been something deeper and more complex inside.
Nathan Drake is on the search for ancient treasure and for the brother he has been missing since childhood. He works as a bartender in NYC, where Sully offers him the chance to help him find the treasure. Why should the young man trust him? The old man has the know how and the skills.
To accomplish their goals, they need to take some valuable crucifixes from an auction, which are keys to the locations of the gold. Them and their treasure map. I mean, what’s an adventure film without a treasure map?
Next, there’s Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), Sully’s assistant, and not even she thinks she can trust Nathan to collaborate with them on the treasure hunt. You can tell she has to betray them, and for those of you who have seen/played the game, you can also tell sparks may fly between her and Nathan.
And finally, the villains of the movie consist of Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who covets the treasure as vengeance for what his family tree has suffered through, and his mercenary Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), who is more evil than he is. Of course she is.
Director Ruben Fleischer assembles a good team of professionals to make Nathan falling out of a cargo plane look B-movie silly and fun, and some underwater sequences look cool. I’m talking about how Nathan and Chloe get flooded under a city, and need Sully to use one of the crucifixes to unlock their escape. It looks pretty cool the way it’s handled.
Holland and Wahlberg are both likable in their own ways of adapting to their characters and their ambitions. But they aren’t given the kind of scripts that could make them levitate or climb to the top. Screenplay writers Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway all write the film a bit too safe, and should have expanded their horizons a bit more.
It’s a big DUH to me that “Uncharted” is based on a video game, so it has to act like the beginning of a movie franchise. But recent video game adaptations like “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Werewolves Within” have flexibility, and even parodies of video games like the Fortnite-inspired comedy “Free Guy” had a lot to offer. So even I can sometimes give video game movie versions the BOTD. “Uncharted” does have potential, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel.
But for now, this movie should have been as adventurous and wise as the game that I was a watching, not playing.