Uncharted review: It lacks spirit, is crammed with needless CGI, and is criminally derivative. While all of this is true of Uncharted, based on the phenomenally successful game, the game’s pluses include a lovely portrayal by Tom Holland as Nate Drake, beautiful places such as Alicante, Valencia, Xàbia, and Barcelona, and secret messages written in invisible ink and postcards.
The sight of ships allegedly of Frances Magellan’s era being hauled away dangling from helicopters flown directly out of New York via Barcelona is as imperialist as it sounds.
Nate and his brother Sam, relatives of the original Indiana Jones, Sir Francis Drake, want to find Magellan’s great treasure – the belief being that he did not traverse the world for enjoyment, but riches. His vacation was paid for by the wealthy and influential Moncada family. Magellan died before reaching the end of his quest. His captain and his 17 crew members discovered the treasure and finished the voyage.
That is not to claim Drake and colleagues are the first Westerners to grab what they can from the unwary less-developed globe. To accept an Indiana Jones or National Treasure series, you must at least like the characters you are pulling for.
There is no one you want to get their hands on the pot at the end of this very long rainbow, from the hard-working Holland to the going-through-the-motions Wahlberg (who plays Drake’s mentor Sully), to the two women who add no kick or, really, ass to their kick-ass roles of Chloe and Jo (Ali and Gabrielle), to the unused-and-knowing-it Banderas.
The little passages in which the characters riff on each other, whether it’s Holland or Wahlberg or Holland and Ali, shine. However, filmmaker Fleischer crams the film with too many plot threads for him to manage, much too much crawling about a dungeon, and far less mystery than the idea promises.
Some of the feats are appropriately jaw-dropping, such as the opening sequence, in which people, cargo, and a magnificent vehicle fall out of an aircraft, and the mid-air ramming of 500-year-old ships. CGI, on the other hand, has rendered all stunts boring. The sky was never the limit for the creativity, so it’s no surprise that CGI makes everything plastic.
There is the obligatory mid and end-credit sequence implying sequels in which Nate and Sully may encounter across the Red Notice crew. While filmmaker Ruben Fleischer, who directed the excellent Zombieland, should have been more creative, Uncharted is a pleasant way to spend time at the movies.