Uncharted (2022)

A treasure hunter (Mark Whalberg) recruits the bartender brother (Tom Holland) of one of his old cohorts to try and find a shitload of goooooooooooooooold.

Movies based on video games have a bad reputation, for a good reason though: most of them are terrible. Even the best have only been “okay”. I’m actually not that familiar with the Uncharted games. By “not too familiar” I mean “I’m aware that they exist, but that’s about it”. For films like this that can sometimes be an advantage, and sometimes a disadvantage. A disadvantage because if the film assumes you know the game, it won’t tell you certain things which mean you’ll be lost. And an advantage because you don’t get annoyed at things like “but his belt buckle is a dark silver in the games, not light grey like in this. They ruined it! That belt is the most important thing ever, and the colour actually matters for reasons I can’t explain beyond crying”

I’ll say outright this is not the best film you’re going to see, but it’s nowhere near the worst. It’s the kind of film you’d rent from a video shop and enjoy, but not quite enough to buy it, and if it’s on ITV on a Sunday afternoon it would be a pretty good option for you. It’s very fun to watch and you’re not going to spend a lot of time looking at your watch or bored. You may spend quite a bit of time saying out loud “well that’s awfully fucking convenient”. The whole thing works on videogame logic in terms of physics, which makes sense considering, well, you know.

One thing this does very well is work for outsiders. Like I said, I know nothing about the game, yet the film made sense. It gave you enough backstory that you knew who the characters were, and what their motivations are. There are probably references etc that I missed, but most of them don’t make you aware they’re references so you don’t feel lost for not getting them, you don’t realise there’s something to get. There’s one exception, after falling from a plane he says what happens to a stranger on a beach, who replies “yeah, that happens to me a lot too”, and the way it’s filmed makes it obvious this is a reference to something, especially when the camera lingers on this random beachgoers face for an unnaturally long time. It turns out he voices Drake in the game, so I don’t object to the cameo itself, but the way they did it was more hamfisted than me when I’m drunk reaching into the fridge for some cold meat to eat.

It’s directed by Ruben Fleischer, who gave us not only the Zombieland films, but also the first Venom. Actually didn’t realise the same guy did those. If you told me that the guy who made Zombieland made this, I wouldn’t believe you. If you told me the guy who made Venom made this, I’d be like “okay that makes sense”. There’s nothing bad about the way this is shot, it has some good visuals and the set pieces are busy but never look fake despite how ludicrous the action in them is. Even when you have someone get run over by a car in mid-air, you never look at it and notice the CGI. But on the other hand, there’s nothing that really wows you. You’re not going to get future directors be influenced by it. It’s a shame as there’s potential for great visuals in here, but it never really gives them to us.

The plot……let’s face it you’re not watching this for the plot. It tries to have one, and it does work. The only issue is a major character dies and it seems to not affect the plot at all. In this world he’s a rich famous person, so you’d think that would be mentioned again. There are so many ways you could have used it to affect the plot, but having it just to be “hey, this person who killed him is bad” seems a massive waste.

In summary: see it, but don’t pay full price, and don’t go on your own.

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