Uncharted Movie Review: Not a Faithful Adaptation, But Can Still Be a Fun Watch
February 16, 2022 Andrew Cheng

News of a live-action Uncharted movie started circulating a whole decade ago, and it’s quite surreal that the movie is finally releasing on 17 February tomorrow for us here in Malaysia. As a long-time fan of the Uncharted game franchise, I was really looking forward to the movie.

But unfortunately enough, the Uncharted movie is not a faithful adaptation of the game, which will likely annoy fans of the franchise. Nonetheless, for those who are unfamiliar with Uncharted, the movie is still a fun watch, and it could be the start of a Sony film franchise with the teaser of a sequel.

Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg – two big names in the industry – star as the iconic dynamic duo Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan in the Uncharted movie. Antonia Banderas is also another big name in the movie, who plays Santiago Moncada, the antagonist who is after the same treasure as Drake and Sully.

To aid him, Moncada hired Jo Braddock (played by Tati Gabrielle), who used to work with Sully at some point before the movie. Speaking of which, Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) is also another Uncharted character that’s brought to the movie – she is introduced as Sully’s partner in crime.

Just like any Uncharted game, the movie revolves around the search for a lost treasure; more specifically, fortune amassed by one Ferdinand Magellan. But unlike the games, the Uncharted movie takes place before Drake is a full-fledged treasure hunter, so we’re seeing a younger Drake and Sully.

But even with that in mind, it almost feels like the Uncharted movie is completely separate from the game franchise. While Holland plays a reasonably convincing Drake, the same cannot be said of Wahlberg’s performance as Sully.

Walhberg’s Sully appears to be a selfish, self-centred man who only recruited Nathan Drake to seek Magellan’s treasure for his relationship with Sam Drake. Yes, Nathan’s brother (who was only introduced in Uncharted 4) is in the movie too.

Anyway, in contrast, the Sully that we know and love in the game franchise isn’t quite as…well, egoistic. His demeanor is more laid-back too, unlike Wahlberg’s almost frantic take on the character. In short, it’s like he’s not trying to replicate Sully at all.

Granted, it’s unrealistic to expect Wahlberg to be a perfect representation of Sully on the big screen, but it’s hard to see any semblance of the character in his performance. Holland may not be perfect as Drake – it’s tough to match the witty voice performance of Nolan North in the game – but at least he displays a semblance of the character.

But beyond the performances of Holland and Wahlberg, the Uncharted movie doesn’t take into account the lore established in the game either. The origin of Nathan’s relation to Francis Drake isn’t the same as the game, and Chloe Frazer’s parentage isn’t accurate either – as far as the game is concerned, anyway.

For those who are familiar with the game franchise, it can be disheartening to see that the Uncharted movie ignores the established lore of the characters featured.

That being said, if we put aside the inconsistencies of the Uncharted movie to the games, it’s still a fun, thrilling film to watch and enjoy. The signature over the top action sequences of Uncharted are well-represented here, including the much-advertised plane sequence that was taken from Uncharted 3.

Of course, we also get some interesting twists on history in the Uncharted movie, along with some puzzle-solving and traversals that are (again) very much synonymous with Uncharted. The movie’s lore and characterisation may not be accurate to the game, but at least it has these aspects of the franchise down.

Sharp-eyed Uncharted fans – if you’re planning to catch the movie – will spot some interesting Easter eggs hidden in the movie too. While not strictly related to the movie, I like the new PlayStation Productions opening sequence that was played at the beginning too.

Chances are, we can expect to see more film and series adaptions of PlayStation’s exclusive titles moving forward, including a confirmed live-action TV series of The Last of Us.

As a fan of the Uncharted game franchise, I’m not too thrilled with the direction the movie took. But for those who are more familiar with Tom Holland than Nathan Drake, they may find Uncharted to be a decent film, especially for fans of the Spider-Man actor.

There’s also the aforementioned setup for a sequel, but whether or not the second film will materialise likely depends on how well the Uncharted movie does in the box office. While it’s not be a faithful adaptation of its game counterpart, it certainly has big names to carry the film.

Uncharted opens in cinemas on 17 February.