Friday, February 18, 2022

Uncharted

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) loses his brother at a young age after a series of misadventures as juvenile delinquents. A decade and a half later, he is working as bartender in New York, but still pretty much sharp as far as his petty theft abilities are concerned. When Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) challenges his larceny skills and claims to be his brother’s former partner in crime, Nathan finds himself yearning not just for the sibling he lost, but also the life of treasure hunting they dreamed about as kids. The proposition is straightforward: steal 1/2 of a jewel entrusted golden crucifix that serves as the key to the ransacked gold of Ferdinand Magellan and his men. But first, they must figure out the treasure's location as well as avoid Santiago (Antonio Banderas), the heir to the Moncada family empire laying claim to the explorer's loot.

Another Hollywood film, another legendary artifact to steal. Cleopatra’s golden eggs in Red Notice. The cure-all Amazon rose petal in Jungle Cruise. The Book of the Dead in The Mummy. Throw in a (b)romance angle to make things interesting. Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne Johnson and Jack Whitehall. Brendan Fraser and John Hannah. Pretty love interest who can either kick ass or wait to be rescued. Gal Gadot. Emily Blunt. Rachel Weisz. Dafuq, Hollywood. Do you have some sort of computer program with an auto-complete feature to replace different variables of the same storyline?

Well, at least the girls are already kicking ass this time around and want in on the adventure. They are no longer just plot devices waiting to be fridged or used as leverage by the villain to force the hand of the protagonist. Now, that’s a welcome change. Heck, Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) even serves as the main antagonist here, and she is just a delight to watch, giving everybody a difficult time. It’s just too bad that she does not get a credible backstory the way obligatory love interest Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) does.

But Uncharted is the film adaptation of a PlayStation game. Oh wow, so the formula works on video games, too? Well, the difference is that in videogames, you actually play an active part in plot development, giving you the illusion that you are achieving something, because your character’s fate depends on how good a gamer you are. In that sense, a videogame’s storyline can be enjoyed more through its gameplay, and that’s what is usually lost in the transition towards the big screen.

Uncharted suffers from the same outcome, although the extent of which I wouldn’t be able to guess because I haven’t personally played the videogame. This is why it is understandable if the movie would not sit well with diehard fans of the game. That’s just how it is. However, for someone who comes in blind or clueless about the material’s origin, the movie still serves as a decent adventure narrative with bits and pieces of history thrown in here and there to give some credence to the story. It’s Hollywood historical fiction with a big budget, suffice it to say. As long as we are entertained, then why not.

As for Holland, his performance here is top and you see how he did transform for the role, at least physically. He seems to be Hollywood’s newest golden boy. It’s nice to see him succeed given his humble beginnings. Every up-and-coming actor needs this string of blockbusters to build up his box office bankability. Accolades should come later if he plays his cards right and when he finally has the luxury to be selective with the roles he wants to accept. Let’s hope he does not screw this up like Shia LeBeouf did post-Transformers.

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