From the Cover of Uncharted (2022)by Sony Pictures:
Street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting, white-knuckle race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs. If Nate and Sully can decipher the clues and solve one of the world’s oldest mysteries, they stand to find $5 billion in treasure and perhaps even Nate’s long-lost brother…but only if they can learn to work together.”
Transfiguring Adoption’s Overview:
Uncharted (2022) is a treasure-hunting adventure based on the series of PlayStation video games and stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. The movie is fun, though pretty violent and definitely earns its PG-13 rating. Families should use caution before going to see this one- in addition to the violence, the characters are constantly betraying one another and the movie seems to send a message that people are generally unreliable and cannot be trusted. As this is something children and teens who have experienced trauma already have difficulty with, it may be one to steer clear of. Or at the very least, watch ahead of time or wait until you can watch at home. There are also themes of family loss and separation which may be triggering.
** Spoilers Could Be Ahead **
How Is This Relevant To Adoption & Foster Care?
We see in a flashback that the main character, Nate, and his older brother Sam have lost their parents and live together in an orphanage. Sam runs away, rather than face jail time for breaking and entering, and promises to come back for Nate but never does. While we don’t see any more of their childhood other than this brief moment it is implied that Nate grew up alone and aged out of care. He is now a bartender and also engages in theft to pay his bills and doesn’t really seem to have anyone he’s close to. Nate is eager for news of his brother and even willing to go along with an illegal scheme with a stranger due to the promise of possibly seeing his brother again. Children with backgrounds of trauma will likely relate strongly to Nate’s feelings of abandonment and desire for connection as well as Sam’s desire to live life on his own terms.
Family Legacy and Connection Early on in the movie (and later in a postcard) Sam tells Nate to remember that ‘he’s a Drake’. One of the reasons the brothers become so interested in treasure hunting is because they are related to a famous treasure hunter and this is a big part of Nate’s identity. In a wider sense it is also a way of reminding Nate that he’s connected to something bigger. This sense of connection and belonging is especially important when children are separated from their biological family so this can be a great way to start a conversation about it. Talk about what makes them feel more connected to their birth family- maybe there’s a tradition their family had, a hobby or interest that the child shared with a sibling or parent, or even a family member’s favorite food. Finding a way to incorporate these things into their daily life might be a great way to help them feel connected to those family members, even if they can’t physically be together with them.
Knowing Who to Trust While the movie does not do a great job at showing positive examples of this, it can still be a great jumping off point for a conversation about how to know when someone is trustworthy. Often children with backgrounds of trauma are all too familiar with adults being unreliable. Their previous experiences have taught them that adults cannot be trusted and that’s a hard cycle to break. In this movie no one can be trusted (not even Nate, the hero!). Even when he’s on his own we see Nate engaging in acts of petty thievery before joining up with Sully and various others on his treasure hunting adventure. And for the rest of the movie the characters are constantly changing sides, lying to one another, withholding information and even deliberately tricking or betraying one another. This only serves to confirm the narrative our youth already believe that no one is really on their side, or that people will make choices that are self-serving when it comes down to it. Talk with them about why the different characters in the movie aren’t trustworthy and then talk about what characteristics *do* make someone reliable and trustworthy.
Grief and Loss Though we only meet Sam very briefly in the movie, the loss of his brother is the main driving force behind most of Nate’s decisions. The hope of being reunited with his brother is what motivates him to accept Sully’s offer initially and when he later learns of his brother’s death that also affects his behavior, especially towards the person he finds out was responsible. The grief a child experiences from being separated from a loved one can be just as powerful of a loss as death, especially if they don’t know when or if they will see that individual again. Talking about the ways Nate expresses (and doesn’t express) his grief for his brother can be an opportunity to talk about the different ways grief can affect someone and even transition into a conversation about some of their own feelings of grief and loss if they feel comfortable sharing.
Parent Death (Offscreen) While it doesn’t happen on screen, we are told that Sam and Nate’s parents are dead and they are seen living in an orphanage as children. This is brushed over very quickly, however, and mentioned only once or twice in passing and is not a major part of the movie.
Sibling Separation and Death During a flashback we learn that Sam, Nate’s older brother, ran away as a teenager, leaving Sam alone in care. Later we find out that he was killed on a similar treasure hunt. The scene of Sam leaving Nate behind may be upsetting for viewers who have experienced being separated from their own siblings.
Violence and Peril This movie is based on a video game series and as such, there are many death-defying stunts such as falling out of airplanes and then being hit by a car and somehow surviving unscathed. There are also a number of tense scenes and moments of peril where it is unclear if the characters are going to make it through okay. Additionally, there is a fair amount of violence with characters often shooting at one another as well as fighting with fists, knives and pretty much anything they can get their hands on.
Betrayal/Backstabbing Nearly every character betrays and lies to other characters at some point in the movie, including Nate who is the protagonist of the story. The characters frequently change alliances and the movie in general seems to be sending the message that no one can really be trusted.
Crime and Illegal Activities Most (if not all) of the characters in the movie engage in numerous illegal activities of varying severity. Even as children we see Sam and Nate break into a museum to attempt to steal artifacts. As an adult Nate works in a bar where he frequently pickpockets customers and steals items from jewelry to vehicles. From there we see him and Sully, as well as various individuals from the enemy organization frequently stealing and breaking and entering, not to mention the frequent acts of violence and even murder. Other than Sam getting arrested as a child there seem to be little to no formal consequences for any of these actions.
On-Screen Character Deaths Two different characters are murdered on-screen with a knife-cut to the throat. In one of these instances, it is a character choosing to have their father murdered due to not getting the inheritance he wanted which is somewhat disturbing to watch. Many other side characters are killed during various fights and exploits, though not as graphically.
Near-Drowning There is one scene where Nate and Chloe are trying to escape from a secret tunnel underneath a fountain and it starts filling up with water while they wait to be rescued by Sully. Chole even loses consciousness and begins to drown before Nate notices and is able to swim down and rescue her. Watching these characters struggle under water may be triggering for children who have experienced drowning-attempts or have a fear of water.
Which of the two brothers do you think you’re more like? Caregiver Note: Sam, the older brother, is only seen on screen very briefly but he is talked about a lot. He was the ringleader in the stunts he and Nate engaged in. When he faces jail time for one of these stunts, he chooses to run away from the orphanage instead, leaving his younger brother Nate behind. He goes off and is having adventures treasure hunting and traveling the world, while Nate is left to grow up in the system and struggle to find his own way, always waiting for his brother to come back. Talking about which brother they relate more to may offer some insight into how they view their own sibling relationships or past- for example if they feel like they were the one who left or the one who was left behind.
When Sam runs away, he promises Nate that he will come back for him. However, we learn that he never did. How do you think this makes Nate feel? Caregiver Note: During the flashback we learn that Nate and Sam’s parents have passed away and they live together in an orphanage. Nate clearly looks up to Sam and is devastated when he leaves. We can tell through his later actions that Nate is angry and hurt that his brother never returned for him, but also that he still holds out hope that they will be reunited. There are a lot of complicated feelings wrapped up in this which children who have experienced sibling separation may relate strongly to. If they feel comfortable, transition to talking about their own sibling relationships and how they may be similar or different to Sam and Nate’s.
Do you think Sam did the right thing when he ran away? Why? Caregiver Note: This is another question that doesn’t have a concrete ‘right’ answer. Depending on their own experiences, children may answer this question differently. Those who empathize more with Nate may feel that there is no excusable reason for Sam to have left his brother. But it’s also possible to understand where Sam is coming from given that he would have been separated from Nate regardless due to the involvement of law enforcement. It’s important to hold space for whatever emotions youth might have about Sam’s decision but also talk about the potential dangers of running away and the importance of accepting consequences for wrongdoing.
Why did Sully withhold information about Sam from Nate? How does Nate react? Do you think his feelings were justified? Caregiver Note: Sully let Nate believe that his brother was still alive because he knew it would motivate Nate to continue to help him with looking for the treasure. Nate is (understandably) upset about this. Many times, when children are in foster care or experience other trauma there is information withheld from them about what they’ve been through or about their birth family. There are a number of reasons information is withheld- whether it’s for safety or out of a belief the child is too young to understand. However, because of this youth may be sensitive about seeing this happen to others and feel outraged on Nate’s behalf. It’s also a shock to find out that Sam is dead when Nate has believed all along that he was going to be reunited with him again soon.
A few times in the movie Sam tells Nate to ‘Remember you’re a Drake’. What do you think this means and why is it so important to him? Caregiver Note: The reason Sam and Nate initially get interested in treasure hunting is because they have an ancestor who was a famous treasure hunter. One of the reasons Nate decides to help Sully is because hunting for this particular treasure that his brother was looking for is a way for him to feel connected to his brother even though they are apart. This could be a great opportunity to talk with youth about things that might make them feel more connected to their birth family while they are apart- maybe a special tradition, recipe or activity that they shared with a family member.
What are the ways you can tell if an adult is someone who can be trusted or not? Caregiver Note: It’s very common for children from a background of trauma to have been mistreated or misled by an adult that they trusted such as a caregiver. Because of this it can be challenging for them to understand who to trust and how to determine when someone is telling the truth or misleading them. This can also be a time to help them identify the safe adults in their life whom they do trust and the importance of coming to those people for help if they are not sure about a new person.
When Nate notices one of Sam’s postcards is in the rack for sale in the church how do you think this makes him feel? Caregiver Note: In this moment Nate realizes that he’s standing somewhere that his brother has been recently and it likely triggers some memories and emotions for him- both sadness at being separated from his brother but also hope that he might see him again soon. This could be a starting point for talking about how unexpected reminders of loved ones may trigger their own emotions- whether it’s a sound, smell, or being in a particular location.
Why do you think the characters all turn on each other so often, even when they seem to like one another? Caregiver Note: Pretty much every character in the movie betrays someone at some point, even the main hero Nate is guilty of this. The majority of these characters have experienced various trauma in their lifetime and they all have trust issues for different reasons and have learned to put their own interests above all else and assume everyone else behaves in their own self-interest as well. This is similar to how many people who have been through trauma feel- the idea of hurting or leaving someone else before they have the opportunity to hurt or leave you.
Do you think the characters got what they deserved in the end? Why or why not? Caregiver Note: This is a fairly open-ended question with no right or wrong answer but could provide some enlightening discussion and insight into your child(ren)’s thought process. All of the characters commit various crimes during the movie and all of them betray others in some way. However, in the end some of them get away with no consequences, some of them lose out on the treasure but survive, and others are dead.
Why do you think Nate decides to help Sully when initially he said no? Do you think he made the right choice? Caregiver Note: The biggest motivating factor for this decision is when Sully mentions Sam- the possibility of being reunited with his brother outweighs everything else and Nate is unable to pass this up, despite his other misgivings. This desperation to find his brother leaves him open to manipulation. This can be a great opportunity to discuss how others can use our emotions to manipulate us, as seen here with Sully and Nate. This can lead into the next question and a discussion of how to determine if an individual is trustworthy and the importance of having a trusted adult to talk through decisions with.
About the Author: Jenn Ehlers
Jenn is a central Virginia native who received her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012. Since then she has worked for a local mental health agency and the Department of Social Services in various capacities and has been involved in her community’s efforts to create a Trauma Informed Network. Currently Jenn works in vocational rehab and mentors youth in foster care. When she isn’t working, Jenn enjoys writing stories, anything and everything Harry Potter, and spending time with her niece and nephew.
**Transfiguring Adoption is a nonprofit organization seeking to nurture growth in foster and adoptive families by giving a HOOT about their families. Transfiguring Adoption does not intend for its reviewers nor its review to be professional, medical or legal advice. These reviews and discussion guides are intended to help parents to better be able to connect and understand their children who come from traumatic backgrounds.