‘Uncharted’ Movie Review: Tom Holland Brings Too Much Spider-Man Into Nathan Drake

Uncharted delivers stale execution of a thrilling video game franchise. It throws a lot at the wall to see what sticks, ultimately lacking a cohesive vision that excites or dramatically engages. As a result, the originally charismatic duo of Nathan Drake and Sully become wooden action heroes that aren’t able to soar like their video game counterparts. Uncharted is fine popcorn movie entertainment, but it disappoints as an adaptation of its source material.

‘Uncharted’ movie brings the video game to the silver screen

'Uncharted' Tom Holland as Nathan Drake wearing a white shirt and tan pants
Tom Holland as Nathan Drake | Sony Pictures

Nathan (Tom Holland) is a street-smart young man who works as a bartender to pay the bills. He awaits the return of his older brother, Sam (Rudy Pankow), based on a childhood promise. One day, Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) shows up at the bar and proposes that he should help him on a treasure hunt. After all, they might run across Sam along the way.

Uncharted finds the two action heroes seeking to recover Ferdinand Magellan’s fortune that went missing 500 years ago by the House of Moncada. However, they must also work with Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) if they hope to find the treasure. They will soon discover that much more dangerous people are searching for the gold and are willing to kill anybody who gets in their way.

Director Ruben Fleischer introduces an amped-up ‘National Treasure’

Uncharted immediately begins with Nathan falling from a great height, as shown in the trailer. It rather quickly jumps back 15 years to build on his story, relationship with his brother, and how he developed his passion for adventure. Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway’s screenplay makes a point of explaining the one connection that truly matters to the young man.

Uncharted quickly digs its teeth into the adventure component. Nathan and Sully begin to engage in a series of heists reminiscent of other films in the genre, such as National Treasure. Director Ruben Fleischer jumps back and forth between Nathan’s personal goal of meeting his brother once again and the adventure. As a result, he intends for the two to weave into an engaging story.

However, its series of reveals are predictable, even for those who never played the video game franchise. Uncharted speaks volumes on the importance of family legacy. Several characters are on this journey as a direct result of family involvement. Characters walk the fine line between making promises and trying to find a sense of trust in a world filled with lies and greed.

‘Uncharted’ suffers from casting misfires with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg

'Uncharted' Mark Wahlberg as Sully and Tom Holland as Nathan Drake looking inside of church
L-R: Mark Wahlberg as Sully and Tom Holland as Nathan Drake | Sony Pictures

The best action set pieces are pulled straight from the Uncharted video game franchise. Fleischer successfully brings the film’s biggest moments to a cinematic style that tips its hat at longtime fans. There’s something mesmerizing about watching Nathan navigate impossible scenarios from great heights to tight spaces involving intimidating foes.

Holland hits the silver screen right off his Spider-Man: No Way Home hype. He’s a great actor, although he simply doesn’t fit into the role of Nathan. He’s channeling Spider-Man/Peter Parker here in a way that fails to capture Nathan’s cool and dry-humored style. Unfortunately, Wahlberg doesn’t fare much better. He doesn’t deliver the sarcastic charisma needed for the part.

Wahlberg was initially set to play Nathan, which is a much better fit. As a result of casting misfires, Uncharted lacks the core charisma needed to pull off this video game adaptation. The screenplay rides along predictable lines and never truly establishes itself as the powerhouse feature franchise that it could be. Uncharted deserves better.

Uncharted is playing exclusively in theaters starting on Feb. 18.

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