UNCHARTED (Ruben Fleischer). 116 minutes. Some subtitles. In theatres Friday (February 18).
Uncharted is an adaptation of the PlayStation relic-hunting video game series in which rugged adventurer Nathan Drake and an ever-expanding cast of friends, enemies, and ambiguous associates race around the world in search of hidden fortunes. Movie stars throw themselves into elaborate green-screened action sequences left and right. But the one mystery the movie never solves is: why are we watching this, exactly?
In fairness, if you’ve ever wondered what a Tomb Raider movie would look like if it starred Peter Parker instead of Lara Croft, this is that picture. Tom Holland—Marvel’s current web-slinger—plays the young Nathan, a small-time hustler racing around the world in search of billions in Spanish gold while trying to figure out if he can trust his fellow fortune hunters Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) and Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) to have his back against the baddies (Antonio Banderas, Tati Gabrielle) when the time comes.
Allegiances are swapped, traps are sprung, puzzles are solved, priceless artifacts are waved around like conversation pieces. There’s an impressive IMAX-scaled climax, as these things require. Uncharted ticks all the boxes, but there’s no spark of life; it’s just another generic action picture with no ambition beyond launching another franchise.
Ruben Fleischer, who’s made everything from the Zombieland movies to Venom, keeps it all moving quickly enough that fans won’t care how thin the story is, or how it asks nothing from its cast—to the point that Holland gives exactly the same chatty-brainy performance he gives in the Marvel movies, just in a wet Henley instead of a Spidey suit. (Wahlberg, somehow, does even less.)
Still, the gamers at my preview screening were very happy to see their favourite characters brought to life exactly the way they expected them to look, so maybe that’s all it needed to do. I just wish Uncharted had something to offer the rest of us.