Uncharted Review: Boys to Men
Before you get even more negative about this admittedly watchable, admittedly tolerable example of what passes for a movie these days, it would be rude not to at least highlight the few positive “Uncharted” offerings.
First, for a director who failed as often as “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer, it’s really exciting to see the energy and enthusiasm that he and his team put into the sets of the film. The film’s airy climax, split between a gripping intro scene and its actual chronological placement in the narrative, makes up for what it lacks in grit and texture with a truly inspired sense of joy. At its best, “Uncharted” is reminiscent of Gore Verbinski’s work on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy, tapping into a raw, swashbuckling sense of adventure.
The supporting cast is also quite charming. It’s always fun to see Antonio Banderas exert an unnecessary amount of theatrical effort when playing sociopathic villains in action films, dating back to his underrated work in “Assassins.” But here he delivers a taciturn performance as a tortured, wealthy megalomaniac that feels like it came from an experimental character study, not a video game movie. Ditto Tati Gabrielle, making an excellent impression of Ruth Negga as the film’s heavyweight Jo Braddock, and Sophia Ali as popular Drake foil Chloe Sullivan, both of whom make the most of their meager roles.
And as for the film’s praise to sing along to, Ramin Djawadi delivers a pretty solid original score.
But at the top of the card, the two headliners just don’t feel like the right picks for this feature. Wahlberg is already an actor with a fairly limited range, and in disposable action films he has a higher batting average when playing with the right scene partner (Denzel Washington in “2 Guns”, Lou Diamond Philips in “The Big Hit”.”) Pushed into the obligatory role of “Mr. Stark” as the conflicted and untrustworthy mentor of young Drake, Wahlberg’s presence would likely generate more drama and interest if his chemistry with Holland didn’t feel so fake and cutesy. That’s the central point of the story. biggest thing holding the movie back, and that’s Holland’s casting.
His physique is definitely welcome, as the parkour/wall-crawling agility his background as a dancer has given him gives his fight scenes an Errol Flynn-esque flair. But that only serves to further highlight the odd Spider-Man-ification of an otherwise completely independent property simply by sharing a leading man who’s unable to do more than one distinct thing on screen. .
Is it different from the ’80s, when every spec script had to be tailored to contort around the bulging frames and super-narrow ranges of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well no. Not really. As long as you’re comfortable accepting that the top box office draw in the mainstream market is a darling who still looks like he really misses his dad, Holland appears as Spider-Man in more movies. Spider-Man and even other non-Spider-Man-related films should be cause for celebration.
At this rate, that might be all Sony has left in the tank.