Review: “Uncharted” – Sony brings PlayStation’s game series to the big screen


Ben Kaiser, News Editor

For some reason, video game film adaptations are always a struggle.

Since 1993, there have been dozens of video game movies, and most have been absolutely awful. But Hollywood keeps trying, and now the successful “Uncharted” series is next in line. The film has Tom Holland as the main character who brings a lot of attention considering his popular “Spider-Man” films. Can Holland’s popularity help break the bad video game movie curse?

“Uncharted” is based on the video game series exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation consoles. The series follows Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter with extensive knowledge of explorers, expeditions, and treasures. Drake fights off mercenaries and other treasure hunters for rare legendary treasures. He also has to rely on climbing and scaling mountains, cliffs, trains, sinking ships, cargo planes, etc. I’m a big fan; you might have noticed.

“Uncharted” is directed by Ruben Fleischer. “Venom” and both “Zombieland” films are probably more familiar works of his. These four cover action and horror/comedy films. Fleischer has also directed “30 Minutes or Less,” a comedy, and “Gangster Squad,” a period action thriller. So, this guy covers a lot of different genres.

“Uncharted” stars Tom Holland (the “Spider-Man” series) as Nathan Drake, Mark Wahlberg (“The Departed”) as Victor Sullivan, and Sophia Ali (Amazon Prime’s “The Wild”) as Chloe Frazer. Antonia Banderas (“Desperado”) plays wealthy treasure hunter Santiago Moncada, and Tati Gabrielle (Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”) plays mercenary Jo Braddock.

The adventure begins when bartender Nathan Drake is recruited by Victor Sullivan, better known as Sully. Sully is a treasure hunter with Drake’s older brother, Sam, who has gone missing. Sully needs Drake’s help to find Sam and a treasure from the Magellan expedition worth billions. However, Santiago Moncada, a dangerous descendant of the Moncada family who directly funded the Magellan expedition, is also after the treasure. Believing he has inherited claim to the treasure, Moncada has a squad of mercenaries ready to kill anyone in their way.


Video game movies have a bad reputation. It started ever since the first video game adaptation, the infamous “Super Mario Bros.” From there, more attempts were made for video game movies, such as “Double Dragon,” “Street Fighter,” “Alone in the Dark,” “Doom,” “Hitman,” and “Max Payne.” For the most part, these movies by panned from critics and fans.

However, in the last 10 years, video game movies have been improving. Don’t get me wrong, they mostly get up to mediocre, but that is still improving. Probably the best ones lately have been “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Pokémon Detective Pikachu.” The new “Halo” series coming out soon looks pretty good on Paramount Plus, WHICH I DON’T HAVE!!!

Probably the best part of this film is Tom Holland. I know, big surprise. Holland managed to capture the tone and mannerism of the video game character Nathan Drake spot-on. He’s also pretty funny, making jokes and utter confusion in the middle of fights. That’s a total Drake move in the game.

If I had anything to say, though, it’s that Holland’s just too young to fully connect to the character. Not that it’s his fault; it’s just how they cast a 20-something-year-old actor to play a character well known in his late thirties. Imagine if they did a movie about Darth Vader, but they had a nine-year-old playing his role. It would… oh wait, they did do that already.

While Holland’s casting has its pros and cons, Mark Wahlberg as mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan is waaay off. Wahlberg is basically playing Mark Wahlberg as Mark Wahlberg disguised as Sully. In other words, he’s playing himself while calling himself Sully every now and then. He doesn’t even have a mustache on for this film, and that is a Sully trademark, Marky Mark!

The other actors’ performances were hit or miss. Sophia Ali’s performance as Chloe Frazer was perfect casting. Ali looks and acts like the character from the games. It’s a shame that the film underplays her character. Ah well, maybe she’ll get more in the sequel. Antonia Banderas was forgettable as the rich bad guy who wants more wealth so he can be even richer and more evil. The only thing missing was dollar signs over his eyes and a thin mustache to twirl menacingly.

As a fan of the games, the main thrill was unlocking elaborate puzzles to long-lost tombs and vaults to find priceless treasures. In the end, they’re often revealed to be cursed artifacts or something like that. In this film, the puzzles are kind of obvious. The kind of obviousness that makes you wonder how a Papa John’s pizza joint was actually built around one of them, especially in Barcelona, Spain. Also, Papa John’s in Barcelona is just the weirdest product placement.

Not to mention Barcelona is a busy city. How people didn’t stumble on any of these puzzles is a different mystery. The games had these settings in isolated areas, many not seen for centuries. Even the treasure is found on an island that is also a luxury vacation resort. You’re telling me guests didn’t go around the island with scuba gear and find this cave? Not to mention that the ships holding the treasure are directly under a gaping hole big enough for planes and helicopters to see? Spelunkers and divers would have found this secret decades ago.

Did the producers use this island just so they could get free vacations at the resort?

Fans of the game series have been asking for a film adaptation for years, with Nathan Fillion as the first (and only) choice for Nathan Drake. Fillion is a natural choice, with the looks and sounds of Drake and even share the same first name! Eventually, a fan-made 15-minute film was put together, with Fillion finally in the Drake role. It’s a fun short film that’s very rewarding to see for “Uncharted” fans. I’m disappointed that the film didn’t have a cameo spot for Fillion, though.

Speaking of cameos, Nolan North shows up for a scene. North voiced Nathan Drake in the game and performed motion-caption. North is usually a voice actor, so it’s an easy cameo to miss unless you’re paying attention to his voice.

Another personal thing that I liked about the games was the music. The “Uncharted” series had fantastic music scoring for their action and exploring scenes and had a memorable main theme for the whole series. The main theme score pops up a couple of times in the film: during North’s cameo (nice), and when Drake takes one henchman’s shoulder holster, which completed the Nathan Drake iconic look. Sadly, both times are really low-key and short. The only other time you hear the score at full volume is during the credits.

Overall, “Uncharted” is okay and predictable. Its predictability isn’t based on the game series; it’s just a generic treasure-hunt lacking the originality that the games are known for. The highlights are Holland’s performances and the action scenes. Other than that, it’s at least worth a rental.

A mid-credit scene is included. It’s a possible opening for sequels while also connecting to the first video game. Sony seems pretty satisfied with the film’s success, so sequels are very likely. Also, yay, Sully’s mustache finally makes an appearance!

“Uncharted” is currently playing in theaters.