Uncharted Review – Tom Holland Dangles and Slides in Tame Adventurer

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I don’t know who hurt him but trust issues are about as commonplace in Ruben Fleischer movies as summer nights are long.

In zom-rom-com Zombieland (2009), it meant the survival of four quirky personalities; in superhero romp Venom (2018), it meant the non-decapitation of the friendly neighbourhood store clerk.

With his latest romp, Uncharted, an adaptation of the beloved Playstation game (and evidence Hollywood may have run out of series to reboot), the trust of SONY is now placed on Fleischer to deliver the next ‘it’ action-adventure series. 

Exactly whether Fleischer has either done so or gained the trust of Uncharted’s devoted fanbase isn’t so clear.

On paper, the fast-moving antics of the roguish fortune hunter Nathan Drake (Spidey himself, Tom Holland) make sense to adapt into a National Treasure-like escapade. A filmmaker like Fleischer captures the thrilling manner whereby crashes and falls instil a sense of whiplash and vertigo. We first catch a glimpse of Fleischer’s adrenalinic direction from the get-go, throwing Uncharted straight into a headspin with the recreation, albeit rubbery looking in its CGI, one of the Uncharted game’s most iconic (and elaborate) sequences; a free-fall from the sky following an unsuccessful attempt by Drake to spider-monkey jump up a ladder of cargo containers. 

Enjoy these big action pieces while you can because it will be a while before the film embraces the same spectacular heights of its source material, instead choosing to lean into two-dimensional parkour (2005 called), attempts at making door opening thrilling and toothless threats of double-crossing spearheaded by fellow fortune hunters/frenemies Sully (Mark Wahlberg) and Chloe (Sophia Ali, Grey’s Anatomy). It is in the film’s efforts to create a tempo that it, a) misjudges what is enthralling, or, b) has spent the entirety of its budget in the casting of its two dashing leads. The sporadic application of audacious action pieces results in many longueurs; an all the more disappointing contrast when compared against the incredibly cinematic quality of its ilk. 

Holland is easy game to rally behind, what with his strong jawline and well-intentioned demeanour adding an additional spark to any performance he undertakes. (He seems like the type of gent you wouldn’t be mad at for taking all of your money at a game of poker.) With Drake, Holland’s efforts prove admirable, with this boyish charm and strong sense of obligation making him enough of a being (albeit a performance of his we have seen before) for a film that otherwise resorts to surface level characterisation. With this, I bring up the next of the film’s troubles: Mark Wahlberg.

Attempts to intertwine a missing brother subplot are cloying at best, with Wahlberg’s aloof Sully – delivered with the same disinterested energy as we have come to expect from the All the Money in the World actor – becoming the surrogate family figure to the doe-eyed Drake. For a filmmaker who made the world fall in love with a blood-thirsty alien, it is disappointing that the relationship between Wahlberg and Holland feels so manufactured that it probably comes with a label around it that says ‘may contain traces of genuine authenticity.’

Rounding out the cast include the no-nonsense mercenary Jo (a menacing Tati Gabrielle) and her cut-throat treasure hunting boss, Santiago (Antonio Banderas, an actor who I hope given his underutilised performance was paid handsomely). 

For those who persist, when Uncharted kicks back into gear it does so with a gargantuan high that would attract the swashbuckling graces of Captain Hook. It is here where Uncharted finds a captain capable of steering the film of the doldrums.

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali

Writers: Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway (screen story by Rafe Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg, Mark D. Walker)

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