Uncharted: Tom Holland Does Indiana Jones

Tom Holland, Sophia Taylor Ali and Mark Wahlberg star in Columbia Pictures' UNCHARTED. Photo credit: Clay Enos. Courtesy of Sony.

Spider-Man star Tom Holland delivers a solid performance as Uncharted makes the transition from video games to the big screen.

There are two mid-credit scenes.

This film isn’t the best action-adventure film but I can be very forgiving if I’m having fun. That’s the thing with action-adventures especially when it’s focusing on the adventure of itself. I’m not familiar with the PlayStation game but it never stopped me from having fun. The script isn’t above itself for paying homage to the Indiana Jones films either–replace snakes with nuns and you’ve got a very familiar line. There’s also a reference to the classic line about objects belonging in a museum. In the time since Indiana Jones, you’ve had Lara Croft and others. Perhaps video game fans will like this or maybe they won’t. However, Tom Holland sure knows how to sell his Nathan Drake character.

The film starts in present day before flashing back to 15 years ago in Boston. This is where we first learn that Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) descends from explorer Sir Francis Drake. Exploring just happens to be in his blood. An incident takes place and his brother, Sam, is never seen from again. Cut back to present day New York (slightly before the film starts) and Nathan is working at a bar. This is where he first encounters treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). Sully is looking for Ferdinand Magellan’s treasure. Or is it the House of Moncada’s treasure? One thing is for sure: the treasure was lost some 500 years earlier and nobody has ever found it. It’s up to Nathan and Sully to find it before Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) can get his hand on it. However, they have to trust each other first.

Once Sully and Nathan arrive in Spain, they’re met by Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali). The thing about Chloe is we don’t know if she’s working with them or if she’s only looking out for herself. It goes back to the whole issue of trust when it comes to this genre. Sully has Juan Sebastián Elcano’s diary. It’s a race against time to find the treasure in Barcelona before Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) and her mercenaries do. Chloe and Jo could not be more different. While we don’t know if we can trust Chloe, Jo is only in it for herself and her actions show it. Just their luck–it’s another clue but one that points them in the right direction to find the missing gold. It all comes to a climax in a not-too-surprising set piece. But then again, we’ve been down this road before in plenty of films.

This is the thing with hunting treasures: you don’t know who to trust. At the moment you’re starting to trust someone, you find out that they double-crossed you. When you’ve seen one film of this nature, you know what tropes to expect. The person who used to work for you before switching sides? Check. The person who knows you’re a liar and doesn’t trust you? Check. And this is just starting to go down the checklist while hiding what happens before you see the film. That’s not to say that there aren’t some exciting set pieces along the way! Of course, if you’ve played the game before, this is Nathan Drake’s origin story. But if you haven’t, Uncharted is still an entertaining action-adventure thanks to the chemistry of its cast and what it offers to audiences.

Watching Tom Holland bicker with Mark Wahlberg is no different than watching him do the same with Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch. Comedy is one of Holland’s biggest strengths as an actor and Mark Wahlberg makes for a solid sparring partner. This is a film that lives and dies on their chemistry. I’ll also add that if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was also doing his best James Bond audition, too!

Give credit to filmmaker Ruben Fleischer and production designer Shepherd Frankel for going after real sets as much as possible. Blue screens can work when needed but there’s nothing I love more than watching actors in a real set. It’s one of the best things to enjoy about the filmmaking process. They use the real Santa Maria Del Pi and sets when necessary. For Moncada’s headquarters, they turn to a Victorian market called el Born. Interestingly, it’s now an archeological site in real life because they discovered ancient Barcelona upon digging into the foundation.

Maybe its because of the pandemic but the thing I like about the globe-trotting adventure films is the ability to feel like I’m traveling from my apartment or inside the theater. What we get in Uncharted is no different than Red Notice in November–just change the people and the object they’re chasing after. I’ll even add on Jungle Cruise when it comes to a contemporary take on a classic adventure film.

DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
SCREENWRITERS: Rafe Lee Judkins and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway
CAST: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, and Antonio Banderas

Sony releases Uncharted in theaters on February 18, 2022.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.