Since Sony is probably saving the next Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife on November 19, they dropped this first teaser for Uncharted. Yes, after years and years of delays and false starts, the movie actually exists to at least the point where it has a release date and a trailer.
This adaptation of the Naughty Dog video game series has been in development so long that Mark Wahlberg has gone from playing the film’s heroic treasure-hunting lead Nathan Drake to playing the crusty, jaded older mentor-ish character Victor “Sully” Sullivan. In his place is Tom Holland, playing a younger version in this glorified prequel that nonetheless contains plot elements and key action sequences from the “present-tense” video games, a series that was new and fresh in… 2007.
The good news is that this teaser seems to offer plenty of what audiences might come to an Uncharted movie to see, namely Nathan Drake wearing his iconic in-game outfit (the white shirt, brown pants and two-holster combo) and doing his share of swashbuckling. This hopefully won’t be like the previous Warner Bros./MGM Tomb Raider flick (which, to be fair, earned $274 million on a $94 million budget), which spent its entire running time leading up to Alicia Vikander’s Laura Croft becoming the in-game hero we know and love.
Moreover, this slick-looking and enjoyable-enough romp seems to pass the Jumanji test. Simply put, it looks like a pleasant enough exploratory adventure actioner even for moviegoers with no interest in the Uncharted games or the Nathan Drake character. It would fit right in during an era when movies like this weren’t do-or-die franchise propositions and were just expected to provide stress-free entertainment on a cozy Saturday afternoon.
Will that be enough come February 18, 2022? The odds are against any new-to-cinema IP adaptation not based on a Marvel or DC comic book, especially one headlined by a guy whose entire cinematic reputation is based upon being Spider-Man in the recent batch of MCU movies. Pandemic aside, nobody showed up for Chaos Walking. That Doug Liman-directed YA fantasy starred both Holland and Force Awakens’ Daisy Ridley.
Mark Wahlberg was a situational butts-in-seats draw for a time (from Four Brothers in 2005 to Daddy’s Home in 2015), but his time as Hollywood’s biggest blue-collar movie star came to an end just as movie stardom was being supplanted by marquee characters. Netflix’s Spenser Confidential wouldn’t have been a huge theatrical hit, although the excellent Instant Family grossed $120 million on a $48 million budget in 2018.
The question is whether Mark Wahlberg, Tom Holland and Antonio Banderas (as the bad guy) are added value elements in a long-in-development adaptation of a video game series which was itself modeled on Indiana Jones and National Treasure-type movies. Of course, it might be the biggest film of February anyway by default, unless Jackass Forever, The Black Phone or the long-delayed Death on the Nile play to best-case-scenario business. Come what may, Uncharted opens theatrically courtesy of Sony on February 18, 2022 in conventional and PLF formats. As always, we’ll see.