I love the Uncharted games. What works about them, from a character perspective, is pretty simple: everybody oozes charm, and also, everybody is a real villain. 

Nathan Drake, in the games, is a killer. He acts like a nice guy, but at some point, as the player, you have to do some reckoning: you’ve killed something like 1,000 people to get to this treasure. And the treasure isn’t going to a museum. This is for personal gain. So is it worth losing your soul?

The games have been made fun of for that attitude for years, but they are defined for it. And importantly, the developers totally get this. They understand it. It’s always been a clear element of the games. You play an antihero. 

So the problem with this movie, apart from how incredibly bland and boring and banal it is, and apart from the fact that everybody in it is 10 – 20 years too young for their roles, is this: the characters in this movie are not that flawed. Their worst flaw is that they’re distrusting, which just seems like a good quality to have in the treasure hunter line of work. So their worst flaws are all the same (not real characters), and their shared flaw is basically being good at their jobs. 

It’s a disaster. The film is nearly as bad as my review. Instead of leaning in to what works about the source material, it doubles down on the National Treasure elements and skips the Uncharted stuff until the ending. These characters don’t act like their traditional selves until a random mid-credits sequence designed to set up a sequel. (A sequel I’d honestly see because it’s based on a game I liked a lot. I’m sorry. I’m part of the problem.)

OK, real quick, some other bummers:

  1. The action is weightless and has no sense of place. The editing is terrible. Felt like characters were just teleporting from one spot to another in these scenes — really, they’d just show up wherever they were most needed. 

  2. The CGI is awful. Worse than a lot of Disney+ shows, and I feel like that’s a low bar. 

  3. I know I mentioned this already, but just to be crystal clear, every person is miscast and at least 10 years too young. I like Tom Holland, but he’s got all the sex appeal of a papaya, and I find it hard to believe he’s old enough to drink alcohol, let alone serve it, or go hunting for treasure, or honestly even swear. He’s too young to curse. He’s obviously wrong for the role of a hardened treasure hunter. And Mark Wahlberg remains Mark Wahlberg. Everybody else is fine, but still too young. 

  4. Action sequences stretch disbelief. The video games did this too. The movies are somehow worse. Instead of refining the action for cinema, they made it more weightless than an Avengers movie. 

  5. The treasure hunt is eye roll inducing and dumb and lame. This is normal for these movies (Lost City was like this and I loved it!), but there are four video games you’re supposedly based on and each one had a plot ten times more coherent. 

This does not create confidence in Sony’s ability to make good movies based on their own IP.

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