‘Uncharted’ Action Sequences Pass, But Not Exactly The Next Marvel-like Franchise | Way of life
Solving puzzles is fun. Watching other people solve puzzles is less fun. Watching entire movies built around fictional characters solving puzzles (where the filmmakers have already decided whether the characters will end up solving the puzzles or not) is even less fun. That’s why I never got to get into those “Escape Room” movies. Frankly, I wonder how much I’m going to love Batman battling The Riddler two weeks from now. But I know I didn’t have much fun at “Uncharted”.
Tom Holland plays Nathan Drake, a descendant of explorer Francis Drake, who studies history and artifacts when he’s not stealing little treasures from bar patrons. He is recruited by treasure hunter Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to track down a lost gold stash belonging to Ferdinand Magellan. Sully was working with Nate’s brother, who has disappeared and is presumed dead (feel free to roll your eyes at that presumption). Nate received a series of postcards from his brother, which may be a clue to the whereabouts of the treasure. Sully really needs Nate for this clue, but he also sees that the kid can be useful as a consultant, decoy, or temporary ally, but certainly not as a partner or friend. Of course, there will be an arc where the two become uneasy partners and friends.
Also after Magellan’s treasure is Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a wealthy banker obsessed with pursuing the fortune he believes to be his birthright (Magellan is said to have dubbed one of Moncada’s ancestors). Moncada leads a rival research team with henchwoman Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), herself an abandoned former partner of Sully. I know the movie needs an excuse to have action sequences, but it doesn’t make sense that Nate/Sully and Moncada/Jo aren’t teaming up. Nate and Sully have all the clues and know-how, and Moncada and Jo have the resources to get the treasure. Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) is also in the mix, a clue holder in business for herself, though she will form temporary alliances with both parties as she is portrayed as a manipulative mistress, when in fact it has the strengths of neither side. She’s so overwhelmed that the movie can’t find a convincing way to include her in the movie’s climactic action sequence.
The treasure hunt stuff sucks, the jokes are mostly not funny, how are the action sequences? Fair. I like the whole ad’s idea of the cargo plane sequence more than the sequence itself, where gravity isn’t taken into account naturally as the characters climb over bulky boxes suspended from cables strained. The same goes for the climactic sequence involving two boats and two helicopters. Great idea in concept, not so much in practice with jerky editing and unnatural special effects. The film is based on a video game, and I’m sure the action works best in this setting, where everything is computer generated and the world can have its own rules of physics. But in live-action, where the characters have to play by the same rules as the rest of us, this film doesn’t do well.
The opening graphics for “Uncharted” indicate that we’re on the cusp of a kind of PlayStation Cinematic Universe, similar to Marvel’s. Two mid-credits sequences indicate that we’re going to get at least one sequel to this film. I agree with the latter, this movie did well enough on a holiday weekend to warrant a commercial, if not creative, follow-up. But the folks at PlayStation are getting a head start if they think they can do what Marvel is doing. Just because they have Tom Holland doesn’t mean they have Spider-Man. Although shooting and swinging from webs makes more sense than some climbing in this film.
“Uncharted” is rated PG-13 for violence/action and language. Its operating time is 116 minutes.