[Screen It]


(2022) (Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg) (PG-13)

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Action: A trio of thieves warily work together to decipher various, centuries-old clues that might lead them to a fortune of long-lost gold.

Ever since he was a young kid influenced by his older brother -- both orphans -- when they tried to steal a centuries-old map related to Ferdinand Magellan that supposedly contained clues to a stash of gold, Nathan Drake (TOM HOLLAND) has become quite good at sleight of hand sorts of petty theft. So much so that treasure hunter Victor "Sully" Sullivan (MARK WAHLBERG) wants to hire him to help steal a large gold cross reportedly tied to Magellan and that map.

Learning that Sully knew his older brother who Nathan hasn't seen since he fled the authorities when Nathan was ten, the young man agrees. But they're not the only ones after the cross that's up for auction. From the House of Moncada, family heir Santiago Moncada (ANTONIO BANDERAS) wants to get his hands on it and has the resourceful Braddock (TATI GABRIELLE) as his assistant to make that happen. She and Sully know each other, and he warns Nathan to avoid her at all costs.

He also views Chloe Frazer (SOPHIA ALI) with the same distrust, but once Sully and Nathan have the cross in their possession, they need her as she has the matching one and both are needed to solve the mystery of the gold's location. As they warily work together to decipher the clues and avoid the boobytraps, they must contend with Santiago and Braddock who also want to get their hands on the loot.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10

Beyond a brief stint of playing "Doom" in the early 1990s, most of my extensive video game playing occurred in high school a decade earlier. Thus, while I'm somewhat familiar with more recent games -- at least those that have become mega-popular -- I don't know them all and some I'm never heard of.

And while only one game from my youth made a decent movie -- that being the original "Tron" -- the annals of cinemadom are littered with a bevy of video game adaptation failures. That, of course, is mainly because games are an active, first-person experience, whereas most movies based on them -- at least those that stay loyal to gameplay -- are about as exciting as, well, watching others play such games (yes, I know there's an online "industry" featuring exactly that, which boggles the mind).

The better movies -- at least in principle -- are those that can operate on their own, with no pre-existing knowledge of the source material necessary, but enough of the characters and gameplay to appease fans. I can't attest to how "Uncharted" does with the latter -- having never heard of the game -- but it's easy enough to follow for those who don't know Nathan Drake from Nathan Lane or the Sully Sullivan from the heroic pilot who landed a passenger plane in the Hudson.

Speaking of that, there are some unbelievable flying moments in this flick from writers Rafe Lee Judkins and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway and director Ruben Fleischer that could cause some serious eye-rolling. That is, when the overall offering isn't otherwise reminding many a viewer of other treasure-seeking offerings ranging from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "National Treasure" and so on.

Here, Tom Holland -- fresh off the megahit success of his latest Spider-Man flick and thus showing up with a lot of goodwill that could potentially translate to box office moola -- plays Drake, a charming and somewhat unassuming young man who's just as good at imitating Tom Cruise's behind-the-bar bottle flipping antics from "Cocktail" as he is lifting a woman's bracelet from her wrist without her being any the wiser.

His skills -- along with being the younger sibling of a pivotal figure who's only seen in a flashback sequence -- means he's caught the eye of seasoned treasure hunter Sully (Mark Wahlberg) who wants him to help steal a gold cross from an auction. It seems possessing that could help find Ferdinand Magellan's long-lost gold, something 10-year-old Nathan was plotting on doing long ago with his big bro.

The two end up forming an uneasy alliance, which becomes more complicated and uncertain when the likes of Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), and Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) enter the picture. The former already has the other matching cross (both are needed to unlock the clues), while the latter two similarly want the gold for their own reasons. What follows is a series of "we need to figure this out" sequences filled with action, adventure, peril, double-crossing, and other such storytelling parameters of flicks like these.

Despite being active and often frenetic enough to prevent anyone from falling asleep while watching it, I never found most of the material terribly exciting or engaging, save for the opening sequence that gets revisited later in the film.

But it's certainly easy enough to just sit back, turn off any higher functioning of the old brain, and just go with the flow. And there's something to be said for that. All of which means that "Uncharted" rates as a 5.5 out of 10.

Reviewed February 14, 2022 / Posted February 18, 2022

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