When a film is based on a video game, there already seems to be a strike against it (think Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider films, although the 2018 reboot wasn't too bad). But, since I'm a fan of Tom Holland, (even before he was Spider-Man there was his excellent work in The Impossible) and I enjoy Indiana Jones style films, I thought I would give Uncharted a go.
The Ruben Fleisher-directed film is actually more like a buddy-film version of National Treasure + Indiana Jones with a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean thrown in for good measure. Holland plays Nate Drake, a New York bartender who enjoys stealing from his workplace's high-end clients. He's recruited by Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to help him find the substantial stash of gold said to be lost by Magellan 500 years ago.
Sully's offer doesn't come out of the blue, however. It seems Sully knows Sam (Rudy Pankow), Nate's big brother who was kicked out of the orphanage where they both lived when Nate was 10 years old. Sam's promise that he would return for Nate remains unfulfilled so Nate is eager to discover what Sully knows of his lost sibling. Oh yeah, and finding millions, perhaps billions, worth of gold isn't bad, either.
Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland in "Uncharted." © 2022 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
As in any heist/treasure hunt film, there are those who are trying to beat the protagonists to the prize and are willing to do violence to get their hands on the treasure first. Antonio Banderas plays Santiago Moncada, a descendent of the family that originally funded Magellan's exploits, who will spare no expense to beat Sully to the treasure. His hired thug, Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), is a stone-cold minion who will stop at nothing to get the loot. Then there is Chloe (Sophia Ali). She has one piece of the puzzle, so Sully and Nate need her, but there is little trust between them.
Tati Gabrielle and Mark Wahlberg in "Uncharted." © 2022 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Fleischer's film sports some great action sequences, including the one that opens the film where Nate gets kicked off a plane and must climb a daisy-chain of packing cubes to get back aboard. Seeing huge ships suspended from helicopters chasing each other across the sky brings the big thrills, too, but the film depends on these rather than a well-woven story to anchor it. Pairing big stars Holland and Wahlberg was a huge part of the draw for me but they're not given much interesting dialogue besides the banter they throw back and forth for two hours.
A scene from "Uncharted." © 2022 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
I'm always interested when there are nuns in a movie and this one has them! Nuns ran the St. Francis orphanage where Nate and Sam grew up and during the search for clues, Nate and Sully are let into a church by nuns. Nate comments, "Nuns. Why does it always have to be nuns?" He's obviously not a big fan but the brief view of nuns we get at least doesn't make them out to be ruler-wielding meanies.
There's not much depth to the film as it's meant to be frivolous fun, which it is. There's nothing wrong with that, but while doling out the action adventure, it also makes stealing look like fun, which is quite unfortunate. A treasure hunt is one thing, like in the National Treasure films, but stealing to make a living and enjoying it, not so good.
Having said that, what ultimately motivates Nate to follow Sully on this zany adventure is a longing to find someone that was lost to him many years before. He's lived with that pain since he was young and, perhaps, it has contributed to his habit of pilfering. While sins against the eighth commandment can never be condoned, we might be willing to cut Nate a bit of slack since he wants what we all need as human beings: a connection to someone who loves us and gives us a purpose for living, be that someone God or another person who shows us love.