A pleasant enough adventure, but it lacks the spark that made the games – and the films that inspired them – so memorable.
Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg appear in this affable but unimaginative version of the popular ‘Uncharted’ computer games, which follow Nathan Drake and his tutor Sully on their treasure-hunting escapades. After practically every leading guy in Hollywood (including Wahlberg himself) was rumored to play Drake, the creative choice was made to make the picture an origin narrative, focusing on a young “Nate” as he starts on his first trip.
Nate works as a bartender in New York at the start of the film. Victor “Sully” Sullivan asks him to assist him in the search for a buried treasure linked to the Magellan Expedition. Sully explains that he was collaborating with Nate’s older brother, Sam, who has now vanished. Nate agrees to assist, but his main concern is finding his brother, not the gold.
So starts a globe-trotting adventure in which they link up with fellow fortune hunter Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), all while avoiding being slain by Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a violent tycoon who believes the treasure is rightfully his. There are several riddles to solve, tombs to plunder, battles to fight, crosses to double, and planes to crash out of. It follows the standard adventure film formula. However, as we all know, there are some long shadows in this genre, and stepping out of them might be difficult.
Why would you prefer ‘Uncharted’ above ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘The Goonies,’ ‘National Treasure,’ or the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ for example? ‘Uncharted’ draws generously from all of them, which is wonderful, but it adds nothing new to the discourse. Speaking of dialogue, the script required at least one more complete rewrite to improve the dialogue. The quip-heavy conversation between the protagonists lacks the necessary zing.
On the plus side, some of the stunt work in the picture is fantastic, and you can see Tom Holland is putting his heart and soul into it. Because the majority of the picture was shot on a sound stage in front of blue screens, a lot of the superb stunt work is overshadowed by weightless and uninspired visual effects. The film has the lifeless, airbrushed gloss of a video game cut scene in large stretches.
It just almost succeeds as a Saturday night popcorn movie that you can just sit back and enjoy. It never genuinely stimulates, but it never becomes so boring that you want to turn it off. I realise that is slamming it with light praise, but it does have the makings of an excellent film. A few additional real-world locales and a rewrite of the script would have made all the difference. I’d definitely watch a sequel if they ever made one. I’d probably wait till it was available on Netflix to watch it.
The special features on this Blu-ray are quite extensive. Some of it is good, and some of it is unintentionally funny. There’s a 10-minute deleted and extended sequence, as well as a director’s commentary with Ruben Fleischer. Then there are the numerous behind-the-scenes featurettes.
The first is ‘Never a Dull Moment: Stunts & Action,’ which delves into the film’s action sequences. Anyone who has seen any of the behind-the-scenes footage from Tom Holland’s Spider-Man movie knows that he performs many of his own stunts. That trend continues here, and it’s evident that he’s a skilled stuntman. He does, however, spew some horrible PR rubbish while wearing his executive producer hat. “Movies just aren’t done like this anymore,” they say, and “it’s very authentic.” Sorry, Tom, but they are, and it is not.
‘Becoming Nathan Drake’ touches on the protracted process, with Mark Wahlberg revealing that he was formerly committed to the character of Drake. This is often ignored in order to focus on how fantastic Holland is and how making it an origin story was the best option they could have done. Of fact, this is true, because the film was dormant until he was cast.
There are also featurettes on the supporting characters, the director, Holland and Wahlberg’s on-screen and off-screen chemistry, and a deconstruction of the film’s famous action scene. The DVD concludes with Milkblood’s “No Mind” music video and a selection of theatrical marketing pieces.