Fans of Tom Holland can rejoice at seeing his latest outing in Uncharted. The movie is based on the video game series of the same name. Uncharted is a treasure-hunting adventure that is a credit to the genre. While these movies tend to favor classic machismo, Uncharted was designed unabashedly for the female gaze, making it incredibly accessible to people who would otherwise stay away from this genre.
Holland himself, playing Nate Drake, was the heart and soul of this story, from beginning to end. His skills as a bar-tender are on point, and we know he’s protecting women at the bar by watching out for any shenanigans. His encyclopedic knowledge of history is endearing, and makes the gratuitous shots of abs even more worth it. For those curious for a bit of trivia, the cigarette originated in Mexico and Central America around the 9th century in the form of reeds and smoking tubes. The fact that he still can’t tie a tie, even after being shown how by Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming is so completely on brand.
Much has been made of Mark Wahlberg’s acting ability, or sometimes lack thereof. It’s clear from his role in this movie, as treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan that he shines in these softer roles. He’s silly and funny, and completely a joy to watch. Rather than the macho, emotionally stunted parts he he plays so frequently, these are the roles he should focus on. It’s also great to see him playing a man his own age, and he shouldn’t be ashamed to need glasses to see better. Wahlberg and Holland make an incredibly dynamic duo with incredible chemistry.
Tati Gabrielle as mercenary Jo Braddock was thrilling. This was another perfectly cast role. Her leadership was clear. Seeing her journey going from working for a boss and being underestimated to leading her own band of thieves was an insane amount of fun. Even if you never agreed with her, she was easy enough to cheer for along the way.
Antonio Banderas was a pitch perfect villain as Santiago Moncada, whose family wealth was built on the violent colonization that characterized the Spanish empire. For there to even be mention of this violence in a video game movie was surprising. His character meant a disappointing, yet completely justifiable end.
The entire movie had a distinct video game vibe. I know that sounds obvious considering the movie’s source material. Cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon delivered an unmatched immersion into this world. The feeling that members of the audience are themselves are an integral part of this game never lets up through the entire movie.
As fun as the movie was, it was not without it’s problems. No one seemed to know what to do with Sophia Ali’s character Chloe Frazer. It was never clear if she was going to be a love interest, or her own entity. The final Pirates of the Caribbean-style action scene featured flying ships that in reality should have been crumbling and…yeah, it was a lot. The movie ultimately could have been at least 30 minutes shorter as the big action pieces definitely dragged the second half down.
Ultimately, Uncharted worked at its best when two likable men searched for treasure and had a fun time doing it. For a movie that never once passed the Bechdel test, it was incredibly focused on the female gaze, which was no easy feat. The end credits indicate that we are now in for an Uncharted Universe, which…I’m not entirely convinced that we need. That said, I will always support Holland and Wahlberg coming back together. Enjoy this fun, treasure-hunting romp, and try not to think too hard.
Uncharted is in theatres now.