One of the big fights in Uncharted takes place at a Papa John’s in Barcelona. We know this because Mark Wahlberg announces he’s in a Papa John’s with more emotion than 90% of his other line deliveries. I’m sorry to say that a bored looking Wahlberg, a Tom Holland without quality Spidey material, and a screenplay borrowing heavily from superior franchises are not the better ingredients to make this a better slice of entertainment.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom), Uncharted raids the Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and National Treasure pics as did the PlayStation games it is based on. I won’t pretend to be an expert on its source material as I’ve never played it. I read that Holland and Wahlberg wouldn’t be the casting choices of its fanbase majority. All I can say is that their chemistry is rather nonexistent. The film only bails itself out a little in the third act with some impressive set pieces.
Nathan Drake (Holland) works nights bartending in New York City while pickpocketing his unsuspecting imbibers. 15 years prior (as we witness in the prologue), he and his brother Sam attempted to steal a map purportedly leading to Magellan’s 16th century gold. Sam gets kicked out of the orphanage they inhabit with a vow to Nathan to return. A decade and a half later, that hasn’t occurred but little bro does get an occasional postcard. Enter Sully (Wahlberg), a treasure seeker who enlists Nathan’s assistance when he reveals Sam is missing. The two team up to find fortune and family and are soon globetrotting along with Chloe (Sophie Ali), Sully’s distrustful colleague and potential love interest to Nathan.
The trio aren’t the only ones looking for Magellan’s ships filled with shiny bars. There’s Moncada (Antonio Banderas), whose lineage stems from the famed explorer’s funders. He believes the gold is his birthright and he’s got ruthless henchwoman Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) helping.
The treasure seeking brings us to Barcelona where key clues are buried beneath that aforementioned pizza franchise and its mediocre at best pizza with decent enough breadsticks if you get a double order of cheese sauce (that’s my P.J. review). It’s not until we reach the Philippines towards the final act that Uncharted‘s pulse is detected. The action sequences in that region and on the plane getting there (a definite standout) are well choreographed and offer more excitement than anything in the first two-thirds.
There’s not really a performance that stands out, but I will reiterate that Wahlberg doesn’t seem much into the mission or movie. You have to wade through a lot of dusty material to find scenes worth keeping in Uncharted. In Papa John’s terms, there’s not enough cheese sauce to go around.
** (out of four)