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It sounds like Nathan Drake's lengthy journey to the big screen will have been worth the wait when Sony Pictures' tentpole translation of Uncharted finally arrives on the big screen in February following years of setbacks. Catching up with Empire for the magazine's February 2022 issue, director Ruben Fleischer teased out the film's climax, which he claimed features something hitherto unseen in the Naughty Dog gaming franchise (and perhaps the blockbuster cinema space in general).
"We tried to take inspiration from the games whenever we could," he said. "But we also wanted to have original set pieces that aren't a part of the games at all," he said. "I've never seen anything like our third-act finale before and I think it will blow people away."
Known for helming surprise hits like Zombieland and Venom, Fleischer was hired as director after numerous filmmakers (including David O. Russell, Dan Trachtenberg, Neil Burger, Shawn Levy, and Travis Knight) bowed out of the video game-inspired project.
Based on the bestselling adventures titles, Uncharted will serve as an origin story for iconic treasure hunter Nathan Drake, who is played in live-action by Spider-Man's Tom Holland. Joining forces with his cigar-chomping mentor Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and fellow treasure hunter Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), Nathan sets out on a globe-trotting quest to find a fabled cache worth billions of dollars before it can be claimed by the movie's bloodthirsty antagonist (played by Antonio Banderas).
In tackling the source material, Fleischer wanted to avoid the pitfalls of most video game adaptations that fail to drum up favorable reviews and big numbers at the box office. "Part of the problem is that they're trying to recreate the games," the filmmaker explained. "Because players have had such a visceral experience, I don't think you can compete with that. I wanted to make sure it worked as a film first."
As one of the biggest stars on the planet, Holland was able to bring his own suggestions to the table, building off the obstacles set forth by a screenplay written by Rafe Judkins and Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway. Judkins, of course, is currently the showrunner and executive producer on Amazon's The Wheel of Time adaptation, while the duo of Marcum and Holloway are known for Hollywood writing credits on the first Iron Man, Men in Black: International, and Sony's upcoming Kraven the Hunter film.
"If Drake was going to go solve a puzzle, Tom wanted to make sure that it felt like a moment from the game," Fleischer revealed. "If he felt like getting the clue was too easy, he would look for ways to complicate it, just to add that layer of believability and make it feel as close to the games as possible."
Uncharted ventures into theaters everywhere on Feb. 18, 2022.