After such a long wait, fans of the Uncharted video game franchise can now enjoy its story in theaters. The movie version of the game was originally scheduled for release in theaters way back in 2016. However, its release was pushed to a later date in 2017, then in December 2020, and then again in March 2021. Finally, after years of delays, Uncharted the movie has just hit the big screen. It made its world premiere in Barcelona on February 7, 2022. February 11, 2022, in the UK, and the US on February 18, 2022. But was it worth the wait? Let’s see how the movie version fares when compared to the game it was based on.
Casting Big Names – Was it the Right Move?
The movie’s producers did not skimp on their budget when casting for Uncharted the movie. They enlisted box office hit actors like Tom Holland to play Nathan Drake, and Mark Wahlberg as Victor “Sully” Sullivan. Of course, there is nothing bad about casting Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. Undoubtedly, they are great actors in their own right with their past movies smashing box office records.
However, picking them as the lead actors for Uncharted the movie was a critical decision for its producers. This is because, despite their excellent acting skills, their real-life personas just seem too far off from the personalities of the characters in the Uncharted video game.
In the video game version, Nathan “Nate” Drake is characterized as a tough yet calm and collected adventurer who can think on his feet and perform well even under pressure. He can also be seen as a headstrong character who is self-assured and confident. This in-game persona carries a lot of charisma fit for the main character of an action-adventure story. This is what makes his character in the game very interesting.
In contrast, although Tom Holland also does have a lot of charisma, his persona is way too different from that of the game’s characterization of Nathan Drake. His stint in Spiderman and on the Avengers franchise portrayed him to be a young and fun character, but not the macho action hero type.
The second character of the two deuteragonists also has the same problem. Victor “Sully” Sullivan is characterized as an American treasure hunter and businessman who is a good friend, mentor, and father figure to Nate. The in-game character easily depicts this because he is a middle-aged man who looks the part of a businessman and father figure. Although Mark Wahlberg can act as a father figure, his persona is more of a macho action star that we are too familiar with based on his previous roles.
Given that the real-life personas of the two main characters are very different from that found in the game, the producers and writers had to come up with different character personalities for the two. This brought out a lot of changes in the storyline which made the movie version of the story very different from that told by the video game version of Uncharted.
Writers had to make a different backstory as well for the characters to work well with the actors.
The Movie Backstory
In the movie, Nate is a young bartender living in New York who steals from wealthy patrons. He grew up in an orphanage after both his parents died. He also seems to have been left behind by his older brother, Sam. His character is still a far cry from the confident persona that his in-game character has. This is probably justified as he is depicted way younger than the character portrayed in the game.
Enter Victor Sullivan, a treasure hunter who claims to have known Sam from a previous adventure. This was right before Sam disappeared on a previous treasure hunt. Sully enlists the help of Nate allegedly for his skills. Nate agrees to go with Sully only because he wanted to find his lost brother. In the movie, Nate is a newbie treasure hunter who seemed more like a sidekick to Sully. This is very different from the confident, cocky, and charismatic character that he has in the game.
The Video Game Backstory
The game however tells us a different story. In the game, Nate and Sam’s mother is the one who died (not both of their parents). Then, it was their father who left them in the orphanage. Their mother however was an archeologist. For this reason, the two siblings wanted to continue their mother’s work.
Unlike in the movie, Sam did not leave Nate behind. He frequented the orphanage to visit Nate before they both committed themselves to treasure hunting full-time. It was on one of their adventures when Sam was imprisoned, then disappeared, and later was presumed dead. It was also Nate who first met Sully in one of his adventures, not Sam. He quickly developed a friendship with Sully probably because he saw a father figure in Sully, which he doesn’t have.
There are also a lot of things that the movie version omitted and rewritten. One huge change in the movie is the removal of Elena Fisher. She is a journalist who later on became Nate’s wife and had a daughter with. This in-game character did have a lot of chemistry with Nate and for this reason, she is sorely missed in the movie version.
These are just a few of the liberties that the movie writers made when rewriting the story. Many argue that the game version of the story was better.
What the Movie Got Right
Although the movie made a lot of changes to the backstory of the Uncharted video game, it kept the main ingredients that make stories of the same genre work. Nate and Sully’s banter, although different from the game, still do exist. It also kept the spirit of action and adventure which made the game’s storyline work.
The Uncharted movie is a simple cocktail of historical mystery, secret artifacts, and adventure that takes two charismatic characters around the world. Throw in some improbable but heart-pumping CGI action, and you’ve got yourself an action-adventure movie that stays true to its genre. It may not be as authentic as gamers would have wanted, but movie fans wouldn’t mind enjoying it.
So, that wraps our review of Uncharted the movie. What do you think? Does the movie version live up to the Uncharted video game franchise’s reputation?