‘Uncharted’: Poor video game adaptation, exciting adventure-film



Pictured here, Tom Holland as Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan.

For a treasure-hunting action film adapted from a video game, “Uncharted” is the perfect film for a casual moviegoer looking for their next Marvel obsession, but fans of the video game will be severely disappointed.

“Uncharted” successfully engrosses the viewer in an action-packed adventure film where you don’t have to be familiar with the video game to be invested in Tom Holland’s performance as lead character Nathan Drake. Although the film focuses entirely on the cinematic and complex stunts to bring the video game to life, the narrative aspects of the film are severely lacking as the audience is repeatedly subjected to watching Drake and treasure hunter, Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) engage in juvenile bickering before entering another fight scene.

One of the biggest issues with the film is its lack of character development. In most action movies, the viewer learns why the villain is a villain, and why the hero is a hero, but in “Uncharted,” the only character that has a clear background story is Drake. The plot is centered on Drake and Sullivan’s race to beat corrupt billionaire Santiago Moncado and his hired mercenary, Jo Braddock, to the Magellan treasure, but throughout the film, the viewer never learns of Moncado or Braddock’s motives to find the gold other than the inferred answer — greed.

Particularly disappointing, Sullivan’s portrayal in the movie adaptation simply fell flat. As a lead character and pivotal part of the plot, Sullivan lacked growth and an identifiable backstory. In the video games, Sullivan takes Drake under his wing becoming a father figure, and teaches him how to be a proficient thief, contributing to Drake’s growth as an adventurer. Whereas, in the film, Drake actually teaches Sullivan how to be a better man, specifically seen when Drake says, “You told me money changes people. Makes them greedy and selfish. But I think that’s just who you are.” Then, in the last scene, Sullivan chooses to save Drake over the gold, ostensibly showing his growth. But, throughout the film, all we really learn about him is that he is a greedy, ambitious man who chose wealth over people repeatedly throughout his life.

The character development in a successful film franchise is imperative to developing a plot that evokes emotion, interest and viewer engagement with the storyline. But without developing the villain’s background story, the viewer is left with less appreciation for the hero or a complete understanding of the plot. When the audience is able to sympathize with the villain, they are much more likely to appreciate the hero. In “Uncharted,” Moncado is introduced as the obvious primary villain, but the viewer never learns why he is after the treasure or why he has an unsteady relationship with his father, who he then has killed over a disagreement. Then, if you thought that was random, his hired mercenary Braddock kills Moncado on his plane so she can take the treasure for herself.

Aside from having an obvious, bland storyline, the film had poor action scenes and unrealistic visuals for a movie with a $120 million budget. Unlike the video game, this film had fewer fight scenes and focused entirely on the chase for the fabled treasure from the Magellan expedition. Even when the characters did engage in hand-to-hand combat, the choreography was poor and relied on Holland’s stunting abilities to captivate the audience. Although the film successfully adapts the “Uncharted” games to the big screen by ensuring the storyline does not interfere with the stunt scenes, it was only mildly entertaining and disappointing to viewers looking for a thought-provoking experience.

The film is the ideal franchise to receive the blockbuster treatment, with its beloved lead actor, cinematic stunts and dramatic storyline, but there is nothing that differentiates it from adaptations “Indiana Jones” or “National Treasure.”

Overall, I found the film provided mind-numbing entertainment, but it wasn’t thought-provoking and was easily forgettable once you leave the theater.