By sweep 16 Comments
~ Mild spoilers ~
To be clear, my expectations were low. The cast has been thoroughly ridiculed since it was first announced, and the trailer didn't inspire much hope; Nathan Drake, who is supposed to be 31 in the first Uncharted game and 40 years old by the last, is played by Tom Holland, a boy who will look 16 years old for the rest of his life. At one point in the film there's a "15 years earlier" flashback where the child actor who plays babby Nathan Drake actually looks about the same age as Tom Holland does as an adult. The final pinch of salt in the gaping wound that is the Uncharted movie is the taunting cameo of Nolan North, who both looks and sounds far more convincing as the protagonist.
Don't even get me started on Mark Wahlberg, a man who deserves to just eat a big bag of wool.
The film pays homage to the games several times and it is at it's best when it's playing on the videogame tropes that made the games so enjoyable - there's a National Treasure/Indiana Jones-esque joy to watching a bunch of characters solve the puzzles and traps in ancient catacombs around the world, and the action sequences are straight out of the Fast & Furious playbook; they shine the most when the film abandons logic and realism and embraces the ridiculousness of the virtual world. This is undercut by consistently poor writing, with characters randomly and arbitrarily killed, and very little development of any of the series favorites. While the writers clearly are attempting to mimic Indiana Jones, they misunderstood that the charm of the character is that he's primarily, first and foremost, a huge nerd; virtual Nathan Drake is also a huge nerd, but the Uncharted film devotes far too much time attempting to make him "cool" by having him throw bottles around behind a bar and do pullups with no shirt on. One can't help but feel this is the 2022 equivalent of making a character beatbox or skateboard in a desperate attempt to make them edgy, a lazy shortcut to any actual character development.
Unsurprisingly the Uncharted film is a bit of a letdown. I think it will be enjoyed by a lot of people (It's got a 90% approval audience RottonTomatoes score right now, and only 40% critical) but the people who enjoy this movie seem unlikely to be the same people who enjoyed the videogames. Credit where it's due, if you're looking for lighthearted entertainment then this will satisfy the National Treasure/Da Vinci Code crowd, with a loose plot wrapped in pseudo-intellectual historical nonsense that is essentially just a pretense for over-the-top action sequences. It's extremely family-friendly; at one point a character has his throat cut and there is no blood spray at all?! That may just be a personal gripe as someone who works in the film industry, but if you're not going to have a visceral spurt of blood shoot out of a gaping neck wound then why even put it in the movie at all?
One can't help but feel that one of the most cinematic videogames ever made deserved a little more love, but i'm sure the people involved in making this film will feel extremely vindicated by the audiences around the world who are crying out for lighthearted action movies to break up their monotonous doomscrolling.
Just make sure if you decide to watch it that your expectations are appropriately low.
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