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‘Uncharted’ is entertaining, yet safe

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Films adapted from video games are always going to attract controversy, and Uncharted is no exception. Many people, myself included, entered the cinema with an air of skepticism surrounding the film. Yet, I found myself pleasantly surprised. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Uncharted, which is not something I often find myself saying about video game-to-film adaptations. The film is as entertaining as any action-adventure film out there, channeling themes that have run through the genre since Raiders of the Lost Ark and giving them an updated retelling, however the film doesn’t truly expand these themes past the mark that was set by the Indiana Jones films forty years ago.

The narrative follows Nathan Drake (played by Tom Holland) as he goes from bartender and occasional pick-pocket, to full blown tomb-raiding adventurer. Having Nathan mentored by Victor Sullivan (played by Mark Wahlberg), a long time adventurer and rather jaded individual, sets up for some decently entertaining comedy which punctuates the moments between the intense action scenes. While the match-up of an older, pessimistic mentor and a youthful, naive student is nothing new to cinema, Wahlberg and Holland give the duo the acting prowess it needs to believably pull off the jokes it inevitably sets up, while remaining open to the occasional moment of heartfelt friendship, or heartbreaking betrayal. 

there are a number of characters throughout who change their “sides” and their motivations so constantly that it’s difficult to keep track of who to trust and who not to

The biggest issue I had with Uncharted was its lack of clear character morality. Sure, Antonio Banderas’ character is clearly the main opposition to Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, but there are a number of characters throughout who change their “sides” and their motivations so constantly that it’s difficult to keep track of who to trust and who not to. While it is arguable that this is an intentional feature of the narrative, commenting on the corrupting power of greed, and the way in which people screw over others in pursuit of their own betterment, it does make it difficult to accept the morality of some characters by the end of the film, given their actions throughout.

Mark Wahlberg’s character is a perfect example of this. Wahlberg may be the comedic relief at times, but he remains a force to be reckoned with throughout, refusing to be entirely sidelined in favour of Holland. His character can be somewhat confused at times, as the audience is led to believe he is a trustworthy mentor one moment, only for him to reveal he is just as greedy as the “bad guys” while backstabbing Holland, only to then return to him as the funny, trustworthy mentor. While I appreciate the character development he goes through, it is difficult to say that it all makes total sense for the character.

At times Uncharted feels exactly like a modern day Indiana Jones movie

The epic sets and spectacular moments of action are consistently impressive throughout the film, whether the characters are crawling through a cramped, dingy catacomb, or fighting aboard a cargo plane. Once again, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it does previously established concepts well enough to make these moments thoroughly enjoyable in themselves. At times Uncharted feels exactly like a modern day Indiana Jones movie, yet it is difficult to specifically praise that fact considering the huge number of action adventure films that span the years between Uncharted and the films it tries so desperately to pay homage to. 

The most noteworthy aspect of the film as a whole has to be Tom Holland’s performance, with Holland fitting perfectly into the role of the naive yet capable amateur explorer, and impressively doing a majority of the stunts himself. Wahlberg wasn’t bad, however the film tries to highlight Holland as the main attraction, focusing on his arguably more noble reasoning for treasure hunting, compared to everyone around him clutching at anything that can satiate their greed.

Ultimately, Uncharted is a fun, yet safe, action-adventure, with a few big names to bump up its prestige. I can’t attest to its relevance or accuracy to the games, having not played any of them myself, which may be one of the reasons I found myself able to enjoy this film as much as I did. I know a number of people who couldn’t stand it, thanks to their prior experience with the games (an experience I recently found myself having with Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City) so be wary if the Uncharted games are close to your heart. Otherwise, take Uncharted for what it is, a perfectly inoffensive action adventure, with some big names, and some great moments, and you’ll most likely have a great time watching it.

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