Tom Holland and Mark Wahlburg standing on a plane in Uncharted

“Bloodless, Heartless, Joyless, Charmless”: We’ve Got Your ‘Uncharted’ Review Roundup

The critics have savaged the video game adaptation starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg.
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Adapting a popular video game into a successful film is one of the hardest things to accomplish in Hollywood. History is littered with absolutely disastrous video game movies, from Super Mario Bros. to Prince of Persia to Assassin’s Creed. Some of these become trash classics, like my beloved Resident Evil film series, but most are lost to the annals of mediocrity.

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Nevertheless the industry persists, unable to quit the allure of a blockbuster video game movie. The latest entry is one of the more cinematic games to be adapted: Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive’s Uncharted series, which follow treasure hunter Nathan Drake as crisscrosses the globe to uncover historical mysteries. It’s a slam dunk idea for a film, a modern day version of Indiana Jones. And Sony spared no expense, recruiting director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Venom) and stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg.

And while the film is set to win at the box office (and enjoys an 88 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes), many critics have lambasted the film for lacking any originality, heart, or spirit. Let’s take a look at what the critics have to say about Uncharted.

 Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture:

“It has the paint-by-numbers approach to character that often afflicts video-game movies, as if the filmmakers were worried that making their protagonists too distinctive might prevent us from being able to see ourselves in them. After all, spiritually speaking, if this is a game, we should be the ones playing it, right? (Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil managed to turn this quality into an asset by giving us a blank-slate hero whose mind had been wiped clean.)”

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal:

“If less is more, “Uncharted” must be a masterpiece. It’s bloodless, heartless, joyless, sexless and, with one exception, charmless. The exception is Tom Holland, but what’s he doing in a slapdash action adventure adapted from a videogame? Making money, of course—gamers will flock.”

Mark Feeney, Boston Globe:

“It’s because “Uncharted” is like a well-tooled sportscar with an underpowered engine. The car does keep going, but not at high speed. Vroom . . . vroom? Vroom . . . sputter. Brand extension is one thing. Horsepower addition is another.”

David Fear, Rolling Stone:

“The longer you watch them put Holland through his Drake paces, however, the more you feel like they wish they could get away with calling this Tomb Raiders of the Lost National Treasure of the Caribbean, Starring Spider-Man. It’s a second-generation copy of someone else’s static-y greatest-hits compilation. You’re better off watching old walkthrough clips.”

Manohla Dargis, New York Times:

“At least give Sony credit for recycling. That is the best that can be said for its nitwit treasure-hunt movie “Uncharted,” an amalgam of clichés that were already past their sell-by date when Nicolas Cage plundered the box office in Disney’s “National Treasure” series. Now, it is Tom Holland’s turn to cash in with a musty story about ancient loot, old maps, lost ships, invisible ink and a wealthy scoundrel with disposable minions.”

David Sims, The Atlantic:

“The film should thrive on buddy energy, but their repartee is grimly forced, a grab bag of generic insults batted back and forth (Nathan is young, Sully’s old; Nathan is short, Sully is slightly less short; and so on). Wahlberg’s script probably should have been printed on the back of his paychecks, just to gin up a little enthusiasm for the material. Instead, as with several big-budget vehicles he’s starred in recently (think Infinite or the most recent Transformers movie), Wahlberg seems almost actively disdainful of the lines he’s reading, dispensing them through gritted teeth.”

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times:

“Watching this movie is like having a particularly unsatisfying Wordle session. You start off in promising fashion but in a few quick moves, nothing is in the right place.”

Mike D’Angelo, AV Club:

“What’s more, Uncharted isn’t even especially good fan service. Rather than adapt any of the actual games, its three credited screenwriters chose to invent a new origin story—one that omits the franchise’s primary female character, Elena Fisher. Drake, originally a sardonic figure clearly modeled after vintage Harrison Ford, is embodied onscreen by Tom Holland, who sheds his adolescent Peter Parker dorkiness but doesn’t replace it with anything especially forceful or memorable.”

Have you seen Uncharted? What did you think?

(image: Clay Enos/Columbia Pictures)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.