Starring: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophie Ali, and Tati Gabrielle.
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Where I Watched It: Apple VOD
English Audio Description: Yes
Description Provided By: The Media Access Group
Narrated By: Briana Leon
The Plot: It’s been a while since Nathan Drake (Holland) has seen his globe trotting brother, and he’s had to pick up a particular set of skills in the meantime in order to make due. But when a stranger named Sully (Wahlberg) rolls into town, talking about a long lost treasure, and stories of how he used to know his brother, Nathan becomes wrapped up in uncovering not just the mysteries of long lost loot and riches, but hopefully the answers to where his brother has been the whole time.
What Works: FULL DISCLOSURE. I have never had the pleasure of enjoying this video game franchise. I can understand the frustrations fans go through when something is adapted poorly, but sadly this time around, this is an IP that I’m unfamiliar with. So, this review is from the perspective of an individual who has no previous connection to the source material.
That being said, I enjoyed the film. I know, that seems faux pas to say somehow because of all the people out there who wanted more out of a videogame adaptation, but the truth is, I just had a lot of fun. The movie plays out like a new and improved Indiana Jones. in fact, in many ways, if you look at Holland’s age, and throw in Wahlberg, it almost feels like an origin story for Jones, but it’s not. It’s this new guy, Nathan Drake, who is just going to do a lot of similar things to Indy. And after the fourth film added aliens, I’m more that welcoming to a new face here.
The casting team basically just grabbed Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg based on their star power and then Fleischer expected nothing from either of them in terms of acting. So, if you like holland and Wahlberg, they are playing themselves. This could quite literally just be a fan sequel or something to Spider-Man where Peter Parker meets up with Mark Wahlberg (because if we’re being honest, he’s been Mark Wahlberg in almost every movie he’s ever made) and they go on a mission, where they are foiled by their film villain of choice, Antonio Banderas, who is not far removed from the last villain he played in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. So, it’s both a pro and a con. if you love these actors just being their stereotypical personalities, then this film will work for you. For my money, they made it fun enough.
And that’s really what it came down to, everything was written just well enough to be fun, entertaining, fast paced, and with a dash of intrigue. I never felt any pacing issues, as this movie runs under two hours. There are some really cool action set pieces, some totally ridiculous (like sending a car into space in F9 silly), but they all somehow bring out an Uncharted charm that is setting a general tone for the franchise (should there be one).
The actual mystery, looking at maps, trying to figure out keys, and finding lost gold, only feels half derivative. There was one moment, but I’ll get to that in a second, but for the most part, this can be fun if you let it, and assuming you have no prior knowledge of the franchise.
What Doesn’t Work: The little part I’m referring to, is that scene where at one point they uncover these secret passageways that supposedly have been lost for 500 years, yet there’s a nightclub just on the other side of the wall. Like, when they built the nightclub, no one noticed the catacombs? Really?
Also, while it’s fun sometimes to cast actors and jut let them do their things, thre’s something to be said about the lazy factor of actually doing that. In many ways, Indiana Jones and Han Solo are the same person, and an argument could be made there that Harrison Ford didn’t stretch himself a lot between those roles, so why should Tom Holland have to make Nathan Drake that much different from Peter Parker? It’s all what you want or expect from a franchise, and it hinges on how much you like the actors, in order to require nothing from them.
And like I already said, there’s just some action nonsense here. But, having just seen Mark Wahlberg in infinite, it has become even more clear to me that he was actually, and truly awful in that film. Because when he wants to be, he does have a Wahlberg charm, and he seems genuinely engaged in Uncharted in a way he never was with infinite. So, even though he’s not really acting, it’s nice to see him fully committed to a role.
The Blind Perspective: So, the fim has a couple of uphill battles. Those mostly lean on the action sequences, as well as this treasure hunt that has a lot of clues, including looking at maps, and figuring out if certain keys work. There’s plenty of attention to detail necessary here, and the film does focus on that. Aside from some initial set ups about how the characters look, it rightly focuses on the real stuff that would be hard to follow, or possibly impossible, without audio description. Briana Leon does another great job with her work here, and it was nice to have this fully realized description that kept us appraised of then necessities.
Final Thoughts: Like I said, I never played the game, but i enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It’s not perfect, but i would watch a sequel. Are there changes I’d make? Absolutely. But they’re mostly minor, and while I can’t go back and rewrite the script in a way that would challenge holland and Wahlberg, I can also accept that they are literally naturally engaging when they want to be. And while I didn’t mention either of the female leads in this review, it’s because I neither felt like they added or detracted. They both did well in what felt like disposable roles, like the franchise was setting itself up to do a little of what James Bond does, by rotating in a new “good” Bond girl, and a “bad” Bond girl. If Uncharted 2 happens, I’d be shocked to see a returning female.
Final Grade: B+