After Spider-Man, Tom Holland returns to Sony in the skin of Nathan Drake. Is the adaptation of Naughty Dog games successful? Critical.
Indiana Jones, The Mummy or Benjamin Gatesthe film “treasure hunt” had its heyday in Hollywood. But while the genre has been more discreet in recent years, Sony is resuscitating it with its adaptation ofUncharted. A vast project for the studios, which hope to impose it as the blockbuster of this beginning of the year. The feature film undoubtedly aims to compete with the box office results of Spider-Man: No Way Home. Tom Holland is once again on the bill, nothing is impossible.
Nathan Drake, a shrewd and intrepid thief is recruited by a treasure hunter to find the fortune of Ferdinand Magellan, who disappeared 500 years ago. With this new mentor, Jake Sully, and a certain Chloe Frazer, he goes in search of clues on where the loot could well be hidden. But to succeed in this mission, they must learn to trust each other. Not easy when all your partners are motivated by the lure of profit.
The Cursed Adaptation
The development ofUncharted was not a long calm river. A few years after the arrival of the first game, Sony Pictures decided to bring the adventures of Nathan Drake to the big screen. We are in 2008 and it is David O.Russel who is hired to put this first adventure in pictures. But after two years of development, it finally leaves the ship to make way for Neil Burger.
Then will follow Shawn Levy, Dan Trachtenberg and Travis Knight until the arrival of Ruben Fleischer in 2020. This time it’s the good one; Sony, under the impetus of Tom Holland, decides to start work on this origin story of the famous treasure hunter. Mark Wahlberg, hitherto considered to play the main role, gives way to the young actor and now embodies his sidekick Sully.
You would have understood it, Uncharted intends to immerse us in the origins of the now very famous character. The plot does not strictly speaking follow that of the various video game opuses, even if some sequences are directly inspired by them. It is above all a question here of building the bases of a saga which could extend over several films, provided that success is there of course. But is this adaptation worth its weight in gold?
The adaptation game is a dangerous game. Many directors have broken their teeth there, at the box office as well as on the side of critics. It must be said that when a work holds a special place in the hearts of viewers, the risk of disappointment is great. On the side of video games, few films of the genre have found favor in the eyes of the public. Recently, Arcane on Netflix has pulled off a tour de force by satisfying hardcore gamers with League of Legends while attracting new spectators into its nets. But the series is a bit of an exception.
An offering to the fans
From the first moments, the director ofUncharted does not hide its intentions to pay tribute to the license. It adapts scenes well known to players, starting with the auction which resembles that of the fourth opus. There are also first-person shots, like a nod to the visual universe of the franchise.
If the plot is mainly new, the elements drawn here and there in the video games make it possible to reassure the fans of the first hour. These little references, skilfully dosed, are undoubtedly the strength of the feature film, which plays with the codes and mechanics of video games. Items that we recover from corpses or infiltration sequences, no doubt we are at home Uncharted.
On the side of the action scenes too, Fleischer thinks big and delivers a copy close to the jewel. From millimetric choreographies to effective cutting, there is no shortage of staging ideas. The vertiginous fall of Drake in the introductory scene is enough to convince us, Uncharted is a rough diamond that the director will cut over the course of the story. Still, the invitation to travel is sometimes disappointing; the fault with decorations which miss scale and the too smooth texture of this adventure across the sphere.
We wouldn’t go so far as to say that we wanted to see skeletons emerge from the bowels of a vault, but a bit of atmosphere would have been welcome. Especially since all this hunting for clues and its enigmas are the heart of the narration, at least in appearance. Because Uncharted is less a spin-off of the first games than a lengthy introduction to the franchise.
A film that rings hollow
Beyond this promise of a popcorn film in the pure tradition of the genre, Uncharted is prevented by a narrative of questionable effectiveness. If this race against the clock has solid arguments to seduce us, we have to admit that it sometimes feels heated. This is all the more true on the side of the characters, and their development on the screen. The duo Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg works wonderfully, but this is not really the case for all the protagonists who populate this adaptation.
Antonio Banderas, for example, plays a caricatural antagonist, just like Tati Gabrielle who has a hard time deviating from what has already been done. Finally, all these beautiful people appear as a clique of empty shells, which move over the course of the action. And when the writers try to bring them more density, there again it is a failure. This feeling is even stronger as we approach the conclusion, whenUncharted tries to lay the groundwork for the relationship between Sully and Nathan Drake. The narrative strings are huge… not very subtle.
Still, the moment proposed by Uncharted is delightful and it is very difficult not to get caught up in the game. In short, Ruben Fleischer’s film is a bit like a sensational attraction, which we appreciate, but which we forget just as quickly. A roller coaster with ups and downs, between adrenaline rushes, frank laughter and frustration at times. Everything is reinforced by sharp dialogues, life-saving touches of humor that allow Uncharted to establish itself as pure entertainment.
Newcomers to production of the genre should have no trouble finding their way, especially if they appreciate the adventures of the famous Indiana Jones. The student does not exceed the master, but he has more than one trick up his sleeve. Stay well until the end of the credits, Uncharted is far from having said its last word.
Buy Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection