Opinion: Uncharted is a mess of a film
The Uncharted video game series were the first ever games I fell in love with. My brother and I played through all four games in a month’s time, and I’ve been replaying them over and over ever since.
The fourth game, “Uncharted: A Thief’s End,” has become my favorite game of all time. Everything about it is great. The characters are as good as they’ve ever been and the story is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told.
When I heard they were making “Uncharted” a film way back in 2015, I had mixed feelings, but overall, I was excited. My love for the characters and the world took over all my negative thoughts. As the years passed by I realized that the film was in production hell; directors were passing through it every few months, and the cast hadn’t been chosen.
When the cast was finally released my confidence dipped even more, but I was willing to give Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg a shot. The Director, Ruben Fleischer, has never made a movie that I have particularly enjoyed, but again, I was willing to give him a chance.
I am completely on the fence about this movie, I am completely indifferent to it. The movie can’t decide if it’s a true adaptation, its own thing, a little of both or neither. The opening scene is reminiscent of how the second game opens. In the game, it’s a train. In the movie, it’s a scene straight from “Uncharted 3,” Nathan scrambling midair over the tumbling cargo of a jet flying through the air. On the other hand, the film completely negates the entire backstory of Nathan, Sully and even Nate’s brother Sam.
I didn’t have the highest expectations going in, but I did expect to see a fun adventure film reminiscent of Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean. There were two or three moments that I truly enjoyed, the entire church sequence, for one. There is potential for a franchise here, but the production crew needs to make a few changes before they can make it an enjoyable one.
All of the initial charm of the original characters are stripped away here, except for Sophia Taylor Ali’s Chloe Frazier; she was great. It’s hard to critique Tom Holland here because I know the games mean a lot to him, and he did a lot of his own stunts, but he’s just not Nathan Drake to me. There’s an argument to be made that he is playing the younger, inexperienced version of Drake, but I don’t think the filmmakers were smart enough to play the long game. I doubt we’ll see a tried and true version of Nathan Drake from Holland. Sure, the script didn’t do him any favors, but it is just Tom Holland dressed up, occasionally, as Nathan Drake.
The performances get worse, or weirder when it comes to Mark Wahlberg. What on earth was this man doing? This was not Victor Sullivan. This was Mark Wahlberg running around as Mark Wahlberg. I just cannot believe this casting choice; it’s just not right.
Another performance that is just cringeworthy was Tati Gabrielle as Jo Braddock. Who decided to let this CW actress into this film? Again, the script and direction does her no favors, but all in all, she wasn’t menacing. She was annoying and a far inferior version to the video game character Nadine Ross.
I do think there is a ton of potential in this franchise. I do believe in Tom Holland, but I don’t believe in the production crew. They need the “Mission Impossible” crew to come on board to make the next one a fun and adventurous sequel. They desperately need to introduce the character of Elena Fisher because her absence was felt here. Someone like Anya Taylor-Joy, Madison Lintz or Katharine Newton could really bring some life to the character and the film.
Another huge problem I had was the score of the film, or the music. Ramin Djawaldi created the iconic music of “Game of Thrones” and is at the helm here. I do not believe for a second that he was given full creative freedom for this because it was unmemorable and just underwhelming. Now, the games have some iconic music moments, especially the iconic “Nate’s Theme,” which is used very sparingly towards the end of the film. Then, after they tease it, they have the audacity to play a cheesy pop song that sounds like it came straight out of 2012 over the end title card. This left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
The film won the box office this week with over $40 million made in its domestic opening here in the States. It brings the total to over $139 million, surpassing its budget by nearly $20 million. A sequel is bound to be announced soon.
If Sony can get some different people on board for a sequel and can put a bit more money into practical sets and effects, I will definitely be in the theater opening weekend once again. A few changes could take a future adaption to the next level.