It’s a fine line between the silly and the sublime…
Uncharted is yet another entry into the seemingly never ending canon of video game adaptations to the big screen. While this action filled entry will never be considered high art, it finds the right balance between off the wall gonzo action and action and drama that at least gives respect to the stakes that it is about to sell.
Street-smart Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune amassed by Ferdinand Magellan and lost 500 years ago by the House of Moncada. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting, white-knuckle race to reach the prize before the ruthless Santiago 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.
While you shouldn’t expect a film like this to really break from the formulaic style that has come before it; Uncharted is happy to lean into the absurdity of the situation but at least allows for (an attempt) at actual emotional stakes.
When it comes to directing; Ruben Fleischer is about as good as it gets when it comes to making affable popcorn flicks and he delivers here in spades. It’s got genuine flow, with well-staged set pieces (all be it occasionally ridiculous ones) that allow just enough room for the characters to have a moment to breathe.
It’ll never hit the level of any in the Spielberg canon that this film draws obvious comparisons to but the screenplay actually walks the line between silly and serious in many ways that the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies do and they ultimately make for a fun ride thanks to the action and some solid performances.
Tom Holland is still way too young to be jaded yet and actually throws himself into being Nathan Drake pretty darn well from beginning to end even though the film is very obviously trying to sell him as the next generation of beefcake with his shirt being off half of the time.
On the other side of the coin though, Mark Wahlberg is actively trolling the material in this movie…but in a weird twist, it actually kind of works. As the well-travelled “Sully”; Wahlberg actually plays it in a fairly jaded fashion and it fits the role self-involved mentor pretty well. Wahlberg and Holland have solid chemistry together and they make for a fun duo that can throw quips back and forth with each other at blazing speed.
Meanwhile Antonio Banderas only gets a little bit of room to let his flag fly as our bad guy while Sophia Ali, Steven Waddington and Tati Gabrielle round out the ensemble as various degrees of good and bad guys along the way.
When all is said and done, Uncharted is an affable little piece of action cinema that won’t disappoint if you like your butter layered on your popcorn with the speakers thumping. It’s well made entertainment cinema that in doldrums of winter is perfect for shaking us all out of our respective ruts. Especially if you see it in IMAX.