Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg go together like peanut butter and broken glass, like Batman and Ghislaine Maxwell. Pairing an endearing, earnest charmer like Holland with the human embodiment of “What are you looking at?” surprisingly doesn’t work! And that’s the least of “Uncharted’s” problems. It’s not poorly written for a video game-based movie. It’s poorly written for a ransom note. It’s poorly written by the standards of online comment sections. It’s poorly written compared to an Ayn Rand novel. It’s that bad.
Holland plays Nathan Drake, who is apparently a beloved character. Having never played the source material, I can only conclusively state this his defining traits are “human male conceived at a “Temple of Doom” drive-in screening.” Marky Mark “plays” Victor “Sully” Sullivan, whose defining traits are identical to 99.99% of other Marky Mark characters. So, yes, he’s basically an unlikeable dingus who would totally be a big Mark Wahlberg fan if he really existed.
Sully, who treasure hunts when he isn’t probably spending most of his time telling women they’re “almost hot,” cons Nathan into join him on a quest for Magellan’s gold. This is because Sully can’t figure out clues like “Go to the building that has this picture on it” or “Put a key in a key-shaped hole” without help. Chloe (Sophia Ali) is also in hot pursuit of the money, as are ne’er-do-wells Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) and Braddock (Tati Gabrielle). All of these people are dazzled by Nathan’s ability to read instructions that are clearly spelled out and then do them.
Like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” if someone wrote it for homework due in 15 minutes, “Uncharted” is almost mesmerizingly boring. The vast majority of it is people talking in depth about things they are going to do before actually doing them and then talking about what an absolute turd bouquet Sully is. Right, so that last part is briefly fun.
Holland tries to channel his inner Spidey, but that’s hard with one-line zingers like “Oh, shit!” and “Ah, shit!” and “Shit!” The puzzle-solving adventure elements are at the level of an escape room for drunk people, which is a great idea that nobody should steal from me if it’s not already a thing. Nathan excluded, the characters are literally all wildly unlikeable. Look, if people wanted to hang out with a bunch of jerks, we’d all have no problem going back to the office or family reunions.
That “Uncharted” is stupid is neither a shocker nor a deal breaker. That it is this degree of stupid is wholly demoralizing. This is it, huh? This is our collective, mutual IQ threshold now? In the nearly 20 years since “National Treasure,” our historical puzzle-solving abilities have devolved to “There’s an arrow on the wall because the wall shoots arrows.” The post-credit scene is basically the opening sequence to the next film, which is as inevitable as mortality and likely equally pleasant. The sequel will presumably just be “Ow, My Balls” with a decoder ring. If Wahlberg is speaking that phrase, I may be okay with it.
Grade = D-
Other Critical Voices to Consider
Amy Nicholson at FilmWeek says “It’s not that much of a movie, but a diversion. It’s a big, dumb diversion.”
Catalina Combs at Black Girl Nerds says “When watching a film based on video games, the characters, world, and effects need to be there. Otherwise, what’s the point? “
Hoai-Tran Bui at Slashfilm says “it’s hard to get a handle on why we should root for Nathan Drake, apart from the fact that he looks like Tom Holland.”