Aleasha Hintz—Staff Writer
Uncharted offers unmitigated escapism for want-to-be adventurers. The film, based on the popular PlayStation video game franchise, follows a small band of explorers on a race to find the legendary Ferdinand Magellan’s stash of gold before the big bad gets there first. The movie blends tropes from heist movies, adventure films, and pirate stories. The end result is a movie similar to Red Notice, Jumanji, National Treasure, and The Pirates of the Caribbean, lending a pleasant touch of familiarity.
The cast list is also quite impressive. Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, both A-list actors, are the film’s stars. They’re joined by Sophia Taylor Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Antonio Banderas, and Rudy Pankow, all of whom deliver stellar renditions.
While I was excited to see Tom Holland step outside of Spider-Man and take on a gritter role, I felt as if I was watching an older version of Peter Parker, rather than Nathan Drake, the film’s protagonist. In Uncharted, Tom Holland seems to have been type-casted once again. While his typical performance does not have a huge effect on the film, it is noticeable.
From the very first scene, the film is an adrenaline-pumping story: Drake is caught by the ankle and hangs thousands of feet in the air behind a large aircraft. What follows is a harrowing, frantic climb back to the belly of the plane, punctuated by well-timed punches and several, terminal plummets.
The movie then whisks back in time to visit a young Drake, showing his origin story, and how he got into thievery and heisting in the first place. Drake’s older brother Sam, played by Rudy Pankow, has tremendous influence on the young boy, for better or for worse. The brothers are orphaned and hurting. All they have is each other, but by the end of the same scene, Sam leaves, unwillingly.
This section of the film feels reminiscent of a video game cut scene. The dialogue feels stilted and unoriginal, even tired. But it’s worth watching as it sets up some enticing motivation for Drake and gets a lot of the historical exposition out of the way. It also prevents the plot from tripping up and slowing down on the legend behind the treasure later in the movie.
After this, the plot accelerates, and then thickens, and then accelerates, and then thickens. I was on the edge of my seat. The action scenes were unlike anything I had ever seen in a movie. I was infatuated with them. There was the genre-typical hand-to-hand combat, but there was also melee and gunfights and free falls and flying pirate ships. They were among the most visually interesting action scenes I’ve seen in a while.
Despite all these wonderful qualities, the movie wasn’t perfect. There are no time or date references, so we can only assume the plot takes place in the modern day. The treasure is linked to real-life history. While there are no superpowers or maniacal villains, the real-life physics get mixed in with movie physics, and that tends to interrupt my suspension of disbelief. It’s just hard to believe that a special helicopter would be able to fly an entire ship with the help of just two well-placed chains.
The end of the movie, however, more than makes up for that in my mind. And, excitingly, sets the stage for more Uncharted movies, though I’ll avoid spoilers this time around.