Various actors and directors have been trying for years to make Uncharted. After seeing the finished product, my only question is, “Why?” Yes, it's based on a popular PlayStation video game, so they probably figured it would be easy to cash in on the title. But seriously, beyond that, why? Why make a movie that feels cribbed from dozens of others? This was clearly an expensive production. Why not put that money to better use by coming up with fresh ideas? What they actually made is so unfailingly mediocre that I suspect even fans of the game will come away disappointed.
Tom Holland plays Nathan Drake, a New York City bartender/petty thief. He gets a surprise visit from Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), a professional treasure hunter who claims to have known Nathan's long-lost brother. According to Victor, they were close to finding a stash of gold, potentially worth billions, that was lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. Now he thinks Nathan could help finish the job. Doing so will require foiling Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a wealthy businessman also looking for the gold, and joining forces with Chloe Fraser (India Sweets and Spices' Sophia Ali), yet another treasure seeker who probably can't be trusted.
The trek takes them to various locations around the world, where they discover dusty passageways inside historic buildings, mysterious maps, and the like. This is one of those movies where characters are constantly sticking “keys” into stone walls to open hidden doors or set off booby traps that utilize technology that wouldn't have existed during Magellan's time. Uncharted might have been fun had it come up with new ideas, but the story mostly relies on clichés we've seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code, and dozens of other pictures where people go on a quest to find a lost artifact.
The central mission simply isn't all that gripping. Added to that is the fact that most of the characters are one-dimensional. Uncharted never bothers to explain how Nathan is apparently a parkour expert, or why a bartender would be so knowledgeable about the most minute details of Magellan's travels. (He regularly pulls out obscure bits of trivia.) Banderas, meanwhile, is utterly wasted as Moncada. The actor gets so few scenes that he never establishes himself as a threatening villain. He should have much more of a presence in the plot than he does, especially in the last act, which oddly removes him from the equation.
The film's pleasures are more of a surface kind of thing. Mark Wahlberg gets a few chuckles from Victor's droll wisecracks. One or two of the action scenes are fun, as well, particularly one where Nathan falls out of a cargo plane. He climbs around on the tethered freight packages that are dangling out of the plane's rear, managing to make it back into the aircraft before a car comes flying out, once again knocking him into the air. It's totally ludicrous, of course, although it's at least wacky enough to hold your attention.
Sequences like that are too few and too far between. Uncharted is, for the most part, a predictable and familiar treasure hunt flick that trots out all the old standbys. I suppose that could work in a video game, where the player can impact the story through the choices they make. As a movie, however, we're stuck with what we're given. What we're given here is completely stale.
out of four
Uncharted is rated PG-13 for violence/action and language. The running time is 1 hour and 56 minutes.