Uncharted Has About as Much Sex Appeal as a Podiatrist

Dept. of Problematic Productions


Uncharted isn’t just safe, it’s shockingly unsexy. And this is a movie in which a ripped Tom Holland is occasionally topless and frequently wet. (There’s a whole montage of him shirtless and doing pull ups for chrissakes.) And yet, there is absolutely nothing here that will get your pulse up or have you shifting uncomfortably in your seat. It feels like Sony was so desperate to make a movie that appealed to all four quadrants that they ended up with a movie with about as much sex appeal as a podiatrist.

Now when I say sexy, I’m talking about the way movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Romancing the Stone are sexy. It stems from the mystery of long buried treasure. It’s in the magic of traversing the globe. It’s in the verve of the villains. It’s in the excitement and the thrills. It’s in “the cool.”

Movies like Uncharted live and die by whether or not they’re cool. When we first see Indy’s face in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as he steps out of the shadows after whipping the gun out of Barranca’s hand, we know immediately that this a cool guy. We haven’t heard him speak. He hasn’t said a single word. But Spielberg, through action, music, and wardrobe, manages to create an indelible image in our minds. And in under three minutes at that.

There is only one moment in Uncharted that seems to come close to that kind of cool and it is buried in the second of two post-credit tags. It’s a sequel baiting setup that suddenly hits on everything that made Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) so appealing: their lively banter and crackling wit. It’s a sudden show of chemistry that will make you wonder why the rest of the movie felt so damn functional.

It’s Not Awful


Uncharted isn’t a terrible movie. It’s a perfectly competent paint-by-numbers action adventure that borrows liberally from the likes of Indiana Jones and National Treasure, from Allan Quatermain, and even some early Jackie Chan movies. If you grew up with any affection at all for the genre, then Uncharted should do just about enough to keep you distracted. But that is all it does.

As far as adapting the video game goes, Director Ruben Fleischer hits all the necessary marks. Puzzles. Parkour. Punch-ups. There are gun fights. There’s sneaking around. There’s even a sequence that directly homages Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. But where the games had stakes, the movie does not. At no point do we believe that our heroes are ever in real peril. There is no weight to the action and therefore no real danger.

There is one action sequence towards the end of the movie which should have been absolutely breathtaking. A shootout on 500 year old pirate ships that are being hoisted in the air by helicopters has all the makings for a great set piece. But all of it just ends up coming off as utterly inessential.

Some of has to do with how CGI it all felt. But mostly it’s due to how dimensionless these characters are. For a movie that is driven by a series of double crosses, it is incredibly anti-climactic when none of them feel particularly shocking or surprising.

A fact made worse by the fact that none of the villains are particularly villainy. Antonio Banderas’ Santiago Moncada doesn’t seem to have any real motivation except, well, money. Ditto with Tati Gabrielle’s Jo Braddock. And neither of them have any personality to speak of. This lack of character may work in a video game (none of the bad guys in any of the games were particularly interesting either), but it completely undermines any narrative tension that they were trying to create in this movie.

But It’s Not Great Either


Which is a pity. Because Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg are as watchable as ever, but their natural charm and charisma isn’t enough to compensate for a somewhat pedestrian screenplay. Despite being an origin story, you will nevertheless leave Uncharted with no idea who Nathan Drake is. You don’t know what he wants. You don’t know how he is as good as he is. But mostly, you don’t care.

These sorts of kitchen sink blockbusters have the misfortune of living in the purgatory that is mediocrity. They are neither good enough nor bad enough to be memorable. You will not be mad watching Uncharted. It should keep your attention for at least three quarters of its running time. The problem here, however, is that you will constantly be thinking about how it reminds you of another, better, sexier movie.

Don’t forget to check out our review of Uncharted on The Goggler Podcast.

Uncharted is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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