Uninspired Action-Adventure Movies Belong In A Museum


Directed by Ruben Fleischer of “Zombieland” fame and penned by Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, “Uncharted” shambles along like a reanimated husk of better action-adventure movies before it, filled not with a soul but with jokes and funnies to make up for the fact that we’ve seen all this before. Like the “Tomb Raider” movies before it, and like every treasure-hunting action flick this side of “Indiana Jones,” “Uncharted” is pretty par-for-the-course for an action-adventure film. There’s a spunky protagonist who’s unusually adept at puzzles and parkour, there’s a long-buried treasure around which centuries of myths have sprung, and there’s a globe-trotting quest upon which the protagonist and their grizzled/hot band of fellow adventurers must embark, encountering all kinds of mustache-twirling villains and their henchmen along the way. And while there isn’t anything wrong with retreading this genre, “Uncharted” doesn’t offer anything new. If anything, its similarities to other movies only call greater attention to its shortcomings.

Far from the great heights of the classic “Indiana Jones” movies, “Uncharted” is closer to “National Treasure” without the weirdo energy of Nicolas Cage, mixed with “The Goonies” without the childlike irreverence of Amblin. It’s glossy, witty, and franchise-ready. Which would be fine if the jokes were good!

And those quips are part of the fabric of the film from the beginning, when the movie opens in media res, as Holland’s Nathan Drake wakes up in midair, his foot tangled in the ropes holding a cargo container that is falling out the back of a plane. A henchman climbs toward him and they tussle, Nathan finally kicking the man in the chest and sending him flying, responding with a panicked, “Oh my god I’m so sorry that was purely reactive!” Holland is used to these kinds of guileless quips — he’s played Peter Parker for 6 years, after all. But the script struggles to match with Holland’s level, giving us unfunny banter about Nathan Drake looking too young to be tending bar (which he ishe’s a child), and about how Mark Wahlberg’s seasoned fortune hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan has too many apps open on his phone.

As someone unfamiliar with the games upon which “Uncharted” is based, I’m told that the games are already pretty funny, but they have to be better than the hollow jokes we get with the “Uncharted” movie. If you’re going to make your movie 90% quips, at least have them be good. There’s only so far that Holland’s aw-shucks genius can carry a movie.

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