Uncharted Ending Explained: Is There Honor Among Thieves?

"Uncharted" felt like one of those movies that would never happen simply because it was talked about for so long. And with that in mind, it's a little hard to believe that we now live in a world in which an "Uncharted" movie exists. And yet, here we are! Indeed, after many years of languishing in development hell and contending with a global pandemic, the long-awaited action/adventure flick has made its way to theaters with Tom Holland leading the way as Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg in tow as Sully.

With director Ruben Fleischer's take on the beloved video games now out in the world, it's time for us to talk about the movie's ending. Particularly, what it means for the characters and what it could mean for the future of the potential franchise that Sony has been hoping to launch this whole time. Let's dig in.

Warning: major spoilers ahead for "Uncharted." Proceed with caution!

A brief recap

The movie very much serves as an origin story for Nathan Drake, who starts out as a history-obsessed orphan who is abandoned by his brother, then goes on to become a 20-something pickpocket moonlighting as a bartender. It's during one of Nathan's shifts tending bar that a guy named Sully attempts to recruit him for a job. This kicks off the relationship between two characters that fans of the games have come to know and love. After some back and forth, the two reluctantly team up to steal a treasured golden cross that will help lead them to Magellan's gold. Nathan is also hoping to learn what happened to his brother, someone Sully had worked with during a previous attempt to find the treasure.

Nathan and Sully are put in the crosshairs of Santiago Moncada (Antonia Banderas), whose family has an ancestral right to the gold. Moncada has enlisted the help of Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) to ensure that he is the one who ends up with the cross and not Sully — or anyone else, for that matter. Sully and Braddock have a history together, which instantly leads to suspicion on her part when Sully and Nathan wind up at an auction to get the cross. Chaos ensues, but in the end, Sully gets his hands on the cross while ditching Nathan.

A character named Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), who has another cross/key needed to find the hidden treasure, also gets involved at this point. Following a huge chunk of the movie that feels a bit like a dark riff on "National Treasure," everything goes sideways. Chloe steals a map and knocks out Nathan (who trusted her too much because he had a crush), while Santiago gets what he wants because he secretly hired both Braddock and Chloe to hedge his bets. It's off to the races to get the treasure with all of the pieces in play. But all of these double-crosses are about to become hugely important in the film's finale.

Setting the stage

Sully and Nathan make one last uneasy alliance following the mishap with the map. Chloe reveals that Nathan's brother Sam is dead (or so she thinks). He was shot, and Sully was using Nathan to get what he wanted, which appears to be how Sully operates. He's a selfish man who just wants his gold. Despite being understandably ticked off about all of this, Nathan decides to hatch a plan with Sully to finish what he started with his brother — to hell with the gold.

Cut to Sully and Nathan sneaking onto Santiago's plane, resulting in a wild, much-hyped plane sequence that snuck its way into the film's trailers. But before that happens, Braddock decides to cut Santiago's throat in cold blood so that she can take over his crew and take all of that treasure for herself. It was Santiago's questioning of her skills and hiring Chloe behind her back that was the last straw. Had Santiago not done that, it's likely he wouldn't have bled out on the floor of that plane.

Following the movie's most insane action sequence, Nathan and Chloe reunite — as the plot now requires them to be on one another's side again. They rent a hotel room with Sully's stolen credit card and proceed to try and figure out where the gold actually is using the map, Sam's old postcards, and the keys. After Chloe goes to bed, Nathan remembers an invisible ink trick from his youth and discovers a clue left behind by his brother. Using the keys as a compass, he discovers the treasure's true resting place. However, he was crossed by Chloe once before, and no matter how he feels about her, common sense prevails and he leaves in the night. He doesn't want to hurt her or cross her, but he's learned his lesson the hard way once already.

There's gold in them there boats

Unsurprisingly, all of these trust issues and character flaws lead everyone to the treasure. Nathan discovers Magellen's boats filled to the brim with more gold than imagined, yet Sully is still tracking his phone, leading him right there alongside his younger counterpart. Meanwhile, Braddock wasn't far off their scent, and, along with her inherited goon squad, descends upon the treasure while Nathan and Sully hide out in a secret compartment, waiting for the right time to strike. Things get wild from here as Braddock airlifts the old ships out of their resting place, resulting in an absolutely crazy chase scene that will put Nathan and Sully's trust issues to the test.

Sully manages to make off with a backpack full of treasure as the duo is forced to hatch an insane plan to steal the helicopter hauling the ship. Nathan is left to defend the boat while Sully ascends the rig to steal the chopper. Then comes a chase scene with Braddock's other chopper across the ocean and the islands. It's all very dangerous, but in the end, after some sweet maneuvers, Sully manages to best Braddock. The other boat and chopper sink into the sea, seemingly crushing Braddock in the process. But here's where the trust issues arise again.

With the rig falling apart, Nathan must climb into the chopper so that he doesn't fall to his death with the boat. All the while, Sully's backpack full of gold is falling out as well. The selfish man who cares only for gold has a choice to make; save Nathan or his gold. Frustrated, he opts to save Nathan and lets not only the backpack, but the entire boat sink to the sea. While they discuss the prospect of diving for the gold, government officials are way ahead of them. In the end, this means that the gold is being returned to its country's people, righting a wrong from hundreds of years ago. Despite their best efforts, Sully and Nathan did some good here.

To that end, Nathan reveals that he stashed away some gold in his clothes for Sully, thus rewarding his good deed. Sully gets a bit of character growth while also getting at least a tiny bit of the treasure he coveted so dearly. Meanwhile, Chloe had discovered their whereabouts and was racing to the scene in a speedboat. And she didn't look that upset that Nathan left her at the hotel. Perhaps she managed to ascend beyond her double-crossing ways throughout all of this as well. It is, more or less, a happy ending. But there is more to it than that.

The best is yet to come

The biggest takeaway from this entire movie is that it all signals that this is just the beginning. This is more of a prequel to the "Uncharted" franchise gamers are familiar with, and that was always the plan once Tom Holland boarded the project. This is a prime example of playing the long game while also, quite possibly, putting the cart before the horse.

Sony very much sees this as an "Indiana Jones" type of franchise that can go on for years, and Holland is young enough to play the role for a very long time. As such, giving him an origin story in this first movie sets the table for everything that could come later. Now we can potentially get a movie with Nathan and Sully fully on board as partners (and maybe Sully can even have a mustache). We can see Nathan Drake already has a taste for treasure hunting and the skills to execute his next quest. This was all about putting the pieces in play to get to a proper version of the thing as it exists.

Whether or not that was the right move remains up for debate. Still, one wonders if there wasn't a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" version of "Uncharted" that skipped this "Young Indiana Jones" approach in favor of throwing us into Nathan Drake's world for an adventure. But in the age of franchise filmmaking, the path to finding real treasure is long and requires more than one blockbuster. Sony decided to play the long game. The ending of the "Uncharted" movie we got heavily suggests that the best is yet to come.

"Uncharted" is now playing in theaters.