This project has been in development hell for over a decade. I actually have blogged about it in 2010 when Mark Wahlberg was still attached to play Nathan Drake, though whenever I look at the video game rendering of the character, I always thought Nathan Fillion would’ve been perfect. I also listed Richard Armitage as one of the actors I wish had been cast, though ALL of those actors are now too old for the part. Heck, even the 50-year-old Wahlberg aged out of the role (he was in his late 30s when he was originally attached), so now we’ve got an origin story of Drake, played by 25-year-old Tom Holland.
The movie opens with younger Nathan with his brother Sam as they get arrested when they got caught trying to steal the first map after the Magellan expedition. Sam escapes while Nathan gets sent back to the orphanage, and that’s the last time they ever see each other. Fast forward 15 years later and Nathan is now a street smart bartender and a stealthy pick pocketer. He gets recruited by a treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan who apparently had worked with Sam to recover a 500-year-old lost treasure worth billions. As if that weren’t challenging enough, they’d have to make sure another ruthless treasure hunter doesn’t get to it first.
There’s only SO many stories that can be told in treasure hunt movies like Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, etc. that the plot get pretty derivative. Uncharted doesn’t exactly chart a new territory in the action adventure genre, in fact it’s basically a variation of the franchise movies I’ve mentioned, combined with the preposterousness of the Fast & Furious flicks. Well, except it’s not quite as fast-paced as one expects for an action comedy. In fact, the movie doesn’t really gets its mojo until in the third act. I mean, there are a ton of action stuff moving at breakneck speed, but the film’s energy is stagnant, it’s as if the characters are just going through the motion.
Now the action scenes are pretty decent, nothing that would go down amongst the classics like the one is Indiana Jones, but they’re thrilling enough when I watched it on the big screen. The auction house chase where Tom Holland makes the most of his Spider-man skills swinging from sleek-looking chandelier is pretty crazy, as is the scene where he falls out of a plane. Of course ludicrous action scenes are par the course in a fantasy action flick, how else are we supposed to believe a kid can hang on to a cargo net out of a flying plane while dodging huge cargo containers, even a car, without suffering any broken bones! The humorous action reminds me of Jackie Chan movies and Holland has proven to be the nimblest young action star working today.
As for the casting, the chemistry between Wahlberg and Holland seemed pretty good in the trailer, but in the movie it doesn’t always jibe. I’ve seen far better action duo, heck even Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham have a more riotous chemistry in Hobbs & Shaw, perhaps because they’re on an even playing field so it’s fun watching them insult each other. The funniest bit is actually the one in the trailer, involving British character actor Steven Waddington’s wild Scottish accent, ahah. I have to admit that Holland has a strong screen presence though to date, he’s still the best at playing Spider-man. As for Wahlberg, he certainly still has a youthful physique and energy to match, but he’s not exactly a charismatic action star like Tom Cruise who’s electrifying to watch in those Mission Impossible movies.
But at least I was mildly entertained when the two of them are on screen, but whenever each of them was paired up with the supporting cast, the movie’s energy dips almost right away. That’s not to say that Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle aren’t good, I think both actresses did as well as they could with the parts they’re given. Ali fares a bit better overall as she looks like she’s having fun doing treasure hunting, while Gabrielle basically just have to look cool as a bloodthirsty villainess . Hopefully they get better parts in future projects that actually showcase their acting prowess. The biggest blunder of this movie is completely wasting Antonio Banderas. His character Santiago Moncada sure has a cool name and pedigree but it doesn’t amount to much at all. I was left scratching my head why the veteran actor would even agree to such a stupid role. Yes I figure a dump truck full of cash is probably involved in the contract, but still.
Director by Ruben Fleischer is no stranger to popcorn cinema with mixed results. I enjoyed Venom and Zombieland but abhor the dull and shallow Gangster Squad. This one isn’t exactly abhorrent, but under more capable hands, this movie could’ve been more intriguing and suspenseful. As it is, Uncharted is a serviceable crowd pleaser, that is the kind of crowd who don’t expect much from a piece of entertainment. For me, I’d likely have forgotten all about it until promos of the inevitable sequels roll around.
Have you seen UNCHARTED? Well, what did YOU think?