Tom Holland the laws of physics both take a licking and keep on ticking in “Uncharted,” Sony’s big screen adaptation of the Sony video game starring Sony’s Spider-Man.
Holland’s kinetic turn as the young pickpocket/historian and bartender turned adventurer is emphatic proof that it’s not just digital effects and stuntmen in that spider suit.
But the movie? It’s as edgy as a Scooby Doo mystery, as plausible a “National Treasure” mashup with “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Let us all pause whilst Disney, which owns those last two properties, hires a screenwriter for that idea.
“Uncharted” co-stars Mark Wahlberg as the guy who might have “the key” to Magellan’s lost treasure, but who was probably cast because he’s one of two action stars who doesn’t tower over the diminutive Brit leading man. (The other? JCVD.)
Yes, there are billions in gold that the Portuguese explorer working for Spain Ferdinand Magellan found and didn’t live long enough to bring home in history’s first circumnavigation of the globe. No, the gold part isn’t true, but never mind.
When he was little, Nate Drake and his older brother Sam dreamed of tracking it down. But being orphans in Boston, fat chance of that. Sam went off on his own in his teens. Nate, the younger sibling “with pirate blood” (they think they’re descended from the first British circumnavigator, Sir Francis Drake) went to New York and mastered the light fingers that get the attention of Victor Sullivan (Wahlberg).
Actually, he knew about the kid because he met his brother. Now, he’s out to steal this golden crucifix that doubles as the key to the lost treasure. Sullivan needs a hustling, ballsy pickpocket who can hold his liquor so that they can split the $5 billion allegedly buried inside whatever those keys unlock.
You know the drill, endless “Da Vinci/Tombraider/Raiders/National Treasure” clues, an auction disrupted, a mad hunt through Barcelona and the South Pacific, because booty calls.
The complications are the heir to an ancient Spanish banking dynasty (Antonio Banderas unleashes his perfect growl), his treacherously sexy lieutenant (Tati Gabrielle) and the equally athletic, self-serving and sexy Spanish “partner” (Sophia Ali) in Nate and Vincent’s enterprise.
It begins with a “falling out of a cargo plane” set piece that we get back to later. Holland’s Nate battles gravity, and logic, and wins. Bugs Bunny Physics at its finest. And that’s not even the finale.
Barcelona always photographs well, rarely more beautifully than in this Reuben Fleisher film.
But damn, is this movie stupid and dull or what? The plot is cut-and-pasted from a half dozen other movies. Every line is more banal than the one that preceded it. A good example, the billionaire banker never travels anywhere without his vintage Mercedes 300 Gullwing. He takes the time, as it’s loaded on the cargo plane, to tell a minion “Be sure not to scratch it.”
Banderas should be chasing Oscars, starring in dramas and romances and comedies, not taking Sony’s bottomless bank for reciting the obvious.
Holland is perky enough, but the may be the most sexless role of his generally neutered career. And Wahlberg, without a good script, funny lines or a great director to insist he raise his game, only occasionally achieves “adequate.”
There’s nothing wrong with popcorn pictures that blend history and action, even if the history is bent beyond recognition and the action is as implausible a Bugs Bunny or Captain Jack Sparrow cartoon.
But the cartoon should be fun and funny, not just a collection of recycled bits from a game and a bunch of other movies.
“Video games make lousy movies” has been a truism since SEGA, and while there have been nearly tolerable exceptions, “Uncharted” isn’t one of them. And Holland may very well do a lot of his own stunts, but he’d be better served picking his own scripts.
Rating: PG-13 for violence/action and language
Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle and Antonio Banderas.
Credits: based on the Sony Play Station videogame. A Sony/Columbia release.
Running time: 1:50