I’ll be honest, I was never looking forward to this film since day one, and like many people, it was primarily due to the bizarre casting of Tom Holland in the lead role.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a criticism over Tom Holland’s acting ability. On the contrary, I think he’s an incredible talent and I’ve enjoyed his performances in every film he’s starred in to date. His casting as the beloved videogame hero Nathan Drake was never an issue in regards to acting prowess, but more so simply to age, and what the decision to cast him said about the film’s producers.
In the popular Uncharted video game series, Nathan Drake is a dry, sarcastic but nevertheless skilled & experienced adventurer, who was always portrayed as a man in his mid-30s. Since the first adventure, we knew enough about him to know that he’s an experienced explorer with a rich history behind him.
In the trailer for the cinematic adaptation, no matter how many stops Holland pulls out, he simply cannot be convincing as the dashing Drake with a face and voice that’s barely out of an embryo’s first prom. It is exactly due to his youthful appearance and voice that has made him such an ideal choice to portray a deliberately young and childish Spiderman in the MCU.
Here however, the fact that they’ve cast him as Drake shows that not only do the film’s producers lack a fundamental understanding of how Nathan should look and sound, but it seeded doubts that this film would have the same dry humour and drama that the games are so beloved for.
But for the longest time, that’s all these were, doubts. As cynical as I was, I held out hope that I would be pleasantly surprised by a fresh and ingenious portrayal of the character once we saw more of this project….
So anyway, the first trailer came out yesterday and I already hate everything.
The film as it stands so far appears to be nothing exemplary in terms of action-adventure; so far offering classic scenes of jumping out of planes, running across rooftops, getting info at a fancy party; nothing we’ve not seen a thousand times before, apart from now having a teenager awkwardly posing as an adult man.
Then we have action sequences that are directly ripped from the games, namely the iconic plane fall scene from Uncharted 3. While obvious attempts at being a homage to the games, they instead just come across as lame imitations that don’t seem nearly as fluid, fast-paced, or tense as the originals were.
Again this could purely be down to the casting of Tom Holland. Had it been an actor more visually fitting to the role, these homages might have come across as charming, but as they stand, we can’t shake the feeling of watching a teenage cosplayer recreating videogame scenes for his TikTok.
Then we have the next bizarre casting choice of Mark Walberg as Sully. Even if we were to gloss over the fact that Walberg has not escaped his history of hate crimes, which already makes him an uncomfortable sight for any eyes, he simply bears no resemblance to the beloved wise-cracking seasoned adventurer, either in looks or in wisened charm.
And then to cap it all off, they just couldn’t resist mocking the Scottish accent for the sake of a cheap joke. This film is a true testament to how little Hollywood values innovation, as here we’re presented with yet another tired and predictable joke at the expense of the Scottish people. If you’re going to dish out lazy stereotype jokes, you could at least make them original.
What’s the most egregious about this whole ordeal is that the film itself is simply unnecessary when we already have a more than perfect fan film available to watch, starring Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake; the undisputable perfect casting choice for the character. The fact that this short film wasn’t the immediate launchpad to expand it into a full-length feature instead of Holland’s coy cosplay is genuinely mind-boggling.
Anyone who’s seen Firefly (and trust me, we have) will know how wonderfully charming, affirming, dry, tough and experienced Fillion’s Captain Mal was, all the qualities that lend perfectly to a flawless portrayal of Drake. But instead of getting a full bout with him as the beloved adventurer, we’re stuck with “Spiderman: Nicking Nathan’s Home”.
Had it not been Uncharted, and just a generic action-adventure film starring Tom Holland as a plucky young adventurer, then no one would be giving this film any attention, but as it stands, it certainly has attention alright, just not the kind it was expecting.
There is an argument to be made about whether we even need an Uncharted film at all. The games themselves after all rely on huge set-pieces and long cutscenes; in a sense they pretty much are playable movies, so an unplayable movie seems nothing but redundant. Why pay for a not so uncanny interpretation of the games when all the cutscenes are already free to watch on Youtube?
Of course, the film is not out yet, so I could still be absolutely and completely wrong. Perhaps in its finished form, this film will still prove strangely charming and enjoyable in its own right. But as it stands, I certainly have no inclination to watch it, either as an Uncharted fan or just as someone who watches films.
Do you think the film will be an unexpected pleasure? Who would you have cast as Nathan Drake? Let us know in the comments!