‘Uncharted’ is lost

“Uncharted” (2022) – “There are places out there you can’t find on any map.  They’re not gone.  They’re just lost.” – Nathan Drake (Tom Holland)

“The weather started getting rough.  The tiny ship was tossed.  If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost.”  – “The Ballad of ‘Gilligan’s Island’”

“Gillian’s Island” (1964 – 1967), an amusing, silly sitcom of seven castaways stuck on an uncharted island, was joyful candy – 22 minutes every weekday minus the ads – for this latchkey kid during the 1980s.  In several episodes, The Professor (Russell Johnson), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), The Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.), and company would conceive ingenious ideas to leave the island, but Gilligan (Bob Denver) – the show’s biggest originator of comic relief emanating from his brain and skinny 5’ 8” frame – would inevitably botch up their plans.  By the 21st minute and 59th second of airtime, our heroes were still stuck on this Pacific isle for another misadventure. 

Sure, each show’s arc was entirely predictable, but, back in the day, this 11-year-old kid enjoyed every single small-screen installment while – usually – guessing the eventual outcome. 

Chloe (Sophia Ali)

“Uncharted” – a 120 million dollar, globe-trotting adventure flick – pits Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) and Nathan Drake on a search for a missing 16th-century treasure from Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition. 

How about that? 

No, Victor and Nathan aren’t searching for the S.S. Minnow, but the film’s major beats are pretty darn foreseeable.  Add juvenile discourse between the leads, far-fetched plot devices, and a few dull action set-pieces devised on CGI walls larger than Fenway Park’s Green Monster, and you have yourself a mindless action picture. 

This movie is lost.

No, director Ruben Fleischer’s “Uncharted” is not based on a TV show but a video game, which admittedly this critic has never played, so I cannot delve into comparisons but only describe the events that unfold over the 116-minute presentation.

On the big screen, Nathan (about 10 years young) and his older brother Sam are master thieves.  Well, not precisely expert bandits because they keep getting caught, and when a cop says that Sam has “three strikes”, Older Bro disappears. 

Victor (Mark Wahlberg) and Nathan (Tom Holland)

About 15 years later, Sam is still unaccounted for, but we meet Nathan again, and he looks like Tom Holland.  Nathan might be in his mid-20s, but the man has garnered a lifetime of talents.  He packs more uses than a Swiss Army knife with a decoder ring attachment.  Not only can Master Drake bartend, but he can turn off the electricity (at least attempt to) at a downtown auction house, nimbly hop around on rooftops better than the Scaffolding Dude in “Casino Royale” (2006), and swim underwater without damaging his cellphone. 

Luckily, Victor found him because Nathan can work these mad skills plus some pickpocketing aptitudes to find billions in Magellan’s loot.

Why trust Victor?  Well, Mr. Sullivan claims to have known Sam, so there you go.

This dubious duo form a pact about as thin as the patience of a 3-year-old hopped up on Jolt Cola and search for the gold.  Of course, they bump into a frenemy with the same gilded quest (Sophia Ali) and a few baddies, including a heavy with an indecipherable Scottish accent (Steven Waddington), a wealthy socialite/businessman (Antonio Banderas), and a martial arts expert who carries a knife more frequently than her car keys (Tati Gabrielle). 

Braddock (Tati Gabrielle)

When our heroes untangle themselves from frequent jams, Victor addresses Nathan as “Kid” so often that college students everywhere will create a drinking game in his honor, and the young man usually responds by popping a Bubble Yum and declaring, “Whoa,” or “No way.” 

Just think “National Treasure” (2004) meets “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989) but without intrigue or fun.

However, Fleischer and his team film in Barcelona, and they capture some flat-out gorgeous shots of the City of Counts, including a Gaudi creation and (I think) the Magic Fountains of Montjuic. 

These beautiful Spanish moments certainly beat a pair of manufactured CGI stunts involving a cargo plane and an insane sequence during the final act.  Admittedly, I didn’t see the film’s finale coming. 

Points for that, but instead of this movie, maybe play the video game (I guess) or watch something completely predictable but also gratifying, like “Gilligan’s Island, S3E27, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane”, where the gang discovers a jet pack, but Gilligan uses up most of the fuel, and then…   

⭐ 1/2 out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Written by: Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tom Holland, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, and Tati Gabrielle

Runtime: 116 minutes

Rated: PG-13

Image credits: Sony Pictures Releasing

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