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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Fortune forgone

“Uncharted” debuts as a fun, but not overly exciting exploration of 21st century adventure film

<p>Tom Holland stars in “Uncharted,” a 2022 action-adventure film.&nbsp;</p>

Tom Holland stars in “Uncharted,” a 2022 action-adventure film. 

Movie: “Uncharted”

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rating: 7.2/10

Evoking delight and nostalgia with adventure and near-fantasy, “Uncharted” brings to life the treasure-hunting whimsy of familiar favorites such as “National Treasure” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” 

Transporting the viewer back to a time of homemade maps, where the ‘X’ marking the spot was no more than a mound of dirt in one’s backyard, revealing nothing but the jewels of childhood imagination, the movie is less to be enjoyed for its content than it is for the childlike thrill of danger and discovery.

The film is based on the video game series of the same name and takes inspiration from the fourth installment, “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.” Directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg as Nathan Drake and Victor “Sully” Sullivan, the film puts video games to the big screen in an action-packed two hours involving Spanish colonial history, knife-wielding girlbosses (who may or may not be villains) and the occasional menacing nun. 

Where “Uncharted” succeeds, unsurprisingly, is in its creation of a seductive world of high-stakes and greed. Holland especially captures the essence of the attractive thief with his easy-going demeanor and suave bracelet-stealing techniques (his showy and skillful bartending doesn’t hurt either in the creation of this persona). The charm of a young 20-something who is brazen enough to go against the most ruthless treasure hunters, with a comparable lack of experience, is not lost on the film. 

But “Uncharted” surprisingly fails in its action scenes. Though there are times when old and new technology come together in epic sequence (such as Holland shooting off centuries-old canons to take out a helicopter), the actual ability to follow the frequent hand-to-hand combat is often compromised. From confusing camera shots to overly blurry and fast movements, the action in this action movie becomes nearly unwatchable. 

The one scene in which these lackluster visuals can be somewhat forgiven is when Holland and co-star Sophia Ali, playing fellow treasure hunter Chloe Frazer, fight off a hilariously hard-to-understand Scotsman in an underground nightclub. Here, the oversaturation of strobing colors, raging music and some impressive bar tricks compensate for the otherwise shoddy shot. 

Continuing on this wavering path of sometimes sticking the landing and other times flubbing, “Uncharted” experiences issues with its overall dialogue. With comedy at the backdrop of everything, there are times when “Uncharted” can create a genuine laugh. However, with stilted deliveries by Wahlberg and jokes that too often feel shoehorned in, the comedy of the film often comes off as overbearing and in the viewer’s face. It’s as though the film lacks confidence in itself to deliver humor without making it obvious that a joke is being made.

Additionally, awkward sound-mixing paired with lines that are far better suited for its video game counterpart than a big-screen movie make the conversations in this film feel at times unnatural and even a bit jarring to listen to.

Then comes the female characters. At first glance, “Uncharted” deviates from its genre predecessors like the Indiana Jones franchise, in having female characters with actual agency and drive, rather than the traditional damsel-in-distress act. However, the film quickly devolves into a boy’s club.

While it’s always fun to see the scrappy underdog and his morally gray companion win, it becomes disheartening when it’s at the expense of another character’s development. The once clever Chloe Frazer has to be written completely out of the last quarter of the movie, just to have Nathan succeed in finding the lost ships of Ferdinand Magellan’s historic voyage.

Again, the curation of a female character, this time Jo Braddock played by Tati Gabrielle, is dampened down in order to make way for plot progression. With Braddock and Chloe being the only two prominent female characters in the film (along with being the only prominent characters of color), this de-evolution of character feels stale and untimely. Although “Uncharted” passes the bechdel test, it fails to make any strides for representation of women in film.

Overall, “Uncharted” marks itself as an OK piece of entertainment for anyone who’s willing to suspend their disbelief for 116 minutes. The kind of film made for the movie theater that needs a towering screen, a bag of popcorn and a group of friends to watch with, “Uncharted” is sure to add a little fun to upcoming weekends, but it falls short of becoming a staple in the action-adventure genre. 

Kara Anderson is a senior arts editor and can be reached at 



Kara Anderson is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum. She is an English and Spanish double major and is pursuing a certificate in creative writing. She enjoys baking chocolate chip cookies, procrastinating with solitaire and binging reality TV on the weekends.  



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