Uncharted is an action-adventure film adapted from a videogame of the same name starring Tom Holland (Nathan Drake) and Mark Wahlberg (Victor Sullivan). It follows the journey of bartender/thief ‘Nate’ as he travels across the world in a bid to find an ancient lost treasure amassed by explorer Ferdinand Magellan. He begins as a recruit of Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan, racing against the conniving billionaire Santiago Moncada (played by Antonio Banderas) and his dangerous mercenary Jo Braddock (played by Tati Gabrielle) to get their hands on the fortune before the other does.
*Contains mild spoilers*
Uncharted plays safe within its boundaries. The main character is an orphan with an unfulfilled dream of exploration and treasure hunting that are remnants of his relationship with a now 'estranged' brother. A vast treasure lies undiscovered, yet within arm’s reach. There are selfish and brazen villains trying to disrupt our protagonist’s journey. There are also seasoned mentors who are difficult to get along with it and characters who change loyalties like they do socks. Seasoned with plenty of action and the hints of a mystery as the quest for treasure progresses, Uncharted seems to have all the major tools to make a blockbuster movie.
Unfortunately, the movie falls due to bad writing. The number of plot holes in the story and instances of broken logic is absurd. Nate’s brother’s story- supposed to be an emotional linchpin in the movie- doesn’t hold any gravity despite it being one of Nate’s principal motivations. The emotional stakes never feel high enough especially during action scenes which are well intended but feel a little too similar to previous action films that have done it better (For example the final ship-helicopter scene is like a watered-down version of the Pirates of The Caribbean and has echoes of Mission Impossible, both of which had handled the sequences more artfully). A treasure hunt story needs an intelligent mystery, yet none of the solutions to the ‘mysteries’ in the film is clever or intriguing. They simply exist to get our characters to travel to the next scenic destination for a fistfight and wander through ancient (yet still somehow undiscovered) tunnels.
The character arcs fall into predictable tropes and somehow still fall flat. For example, Sully, supposed to be the difficult, lone-wolf mentor, lets his greed for gold go after learning to trust in people again after his treasure hunt experience with Nate, yet this ‘important’ relationship has zero chemistry: Nate and Sully’s banter, clearly meant to be humorous and charming, comes off as awkward and out of place. Other examples include the wannabe plot twist with Chloe Frazer’s millionth betrayal which turns really old quite fast. With no strong motivation or effective backstory, her whole arc feels unfinished, boring and unnecessary to the story. Santiago Moncada, the main bad guy, doesn’t have much time to shine with the lacklustre dialogues and motivations that barely had the opportunity to develop. His story is quickly overshadowed before we fully have the opportunity to understand him better. Braddock by far stole the film with her aggressive and ruthless nature as an assassin. Despite having little to work with, she certainly leaves an impression and the marks for a possible future main antagonist.
While uncharted could be forgiven for not having much originality, its lacking mystery, underwhelming action, dull dialogue and missing atmosphere make it a barely tolerable watch. Its story is far too predictable and empty, despite its incredibly fast pace. It certainly has potential, but for now, it remains not bad enough to hate but not appreciably interesting enough for a trip to the theatres. If you are looking for an action movie that will keep you at the edge of your seat, I’d suggest passing on this one.
-By Annapoorna Narayan