Uncharted review – familiar, charted territory

By Marc Miller
Published: February 25, 2022 (Last updated: May 31, 2023)
film Uncharted


Uncharted lands the ship despite floating into familiar, charted territory.

This review of the film Uncharted does not contain spoilers. 

Yes, videogame adaptations very rarely ever work. Uncharted, however, has a built-in audience and a mainstream film fan premise that others did not have. Here, director Ruben Fleischer attempts to straighten out his R-rated career with an adventure film aimed at families to get back into theaters. (Strange for a family-friendly movie to have such a graphic throat-cutting scene, however). While his movie rarely veers away from the charted territory, the film has enough fun with itself for an enjoyable ride.

The movie is about a couple of con artists who are hot on the trail of Ferdinand Magellan’s lost treasure. Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is a young bartender who steals patrons’ valuable possessions while serving drinks. The other is Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). Sully watches Drake pull a diamond bracelet off a young woman by distracting her with the lighter his older brother gave him. Later, Drake finds Sully’s business card in his pocket, missing the jewelry. This is your basic start to any caper film. Think Ocean’s 11 where Danny Ocean stole Linus Caldwell’s score.

Sully thinks Drake has a certain spidey-sense about him. He wants to recruit him to find that treasure. The key is stealing a gold cross being auctioned off. They don’t have the money to purchase such an item. Not to mention a ruthless millionaire. (This is where Col. Nathan R. Jessep would step into the scene and ask, “Is there another kind?”). His name is Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), and he has hired a cutthroat henchwoman named Braddock (You’s Tati Gabrielle). The ride is Chloe (Grey’s Anatomy’s Sophia Ali), another cross that completes the set. Together, they run across the globe fighting Moncada’s hired muscle and themselves. 

Uncharted is a mix of a charismatic cast with evident chemistry between leads, classic tropes, and storytelling plotholes. The script has too many hands, going through multiple rewrites. It is remarkably diluted when it comes to details about the mystery to track the treasure. For instance, you don’t get the exciting history lesson like we would in Indiana Jones. Also, some of the adventures can be eye-roll-inducing. Do you mean to tell me there is a secret underground chamber that can be seen from a drainage grate that no one has thought to look at for the last 500 years? Not to mention, the big reveal has one of the characters needing to dive underwater to get a secret chamber, only for the bad guys to float in by boat?

Yet, the entire movie can be a lot of fun. Holland and Wahlberg both have enough boyish charm — yes, even at the latter’s age — and buddy chemistry to keep things light throughout the adventure picture. Even Ali’s Chloe and Holland have an apparent heat on screen. However, what engages the viewer is the final’s act terrific, special effects-laden action sequence, resembling an old-fashioned swashbuckling ship battle. It’s surprisingly effective. 

Uncharted does land the ship as a popcorn action-adventure picture designed to entertain so you can turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. For some, it may be familiar, charted territory. For me, I chose to power down and enjoy the ride despite the apparent flaws because it doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t. 

What did you think of the film Uncharted? Comment below!

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