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  • Writer's pictureJames McCleary

Uncharted // Film Review

In which Tom Holland uncovers an impossible treasure; his best film in years.

We open in mid-flight, as Tom Holland's fresh-faced Nathan 'Nate' Drake clings to the side of a cargo chain dangling out the back of a plane. There is a ring tied around his neck, a cry of pity for every goon to meet his demise and, most puzzlingly, the sense that Nate isn't really sure how he got here in the first place.

You might be mistaken for believing that this in-medias res opening, taken directly from the game series' third instalment back in 2011, is seeding mysteries now to be unravelled over the two hours to follow. In truth, the origin of Nate's ring is revealed in the very next scene, flashing back a full fifteen years to a caper shared between a young Nate (Tiernan Jones) and his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow), whose absence is the real fuel for the rest of the film's fire. The other two curiosities of this sky diving opener - Nate's pacifism and his confusion - are pretty much never mentioned again. Uncharted is not interested in story structure, or arcs, or even character beats.

"A very game performance from Tom Holland, whose meta-narrative to be taken more seriously as an adult man serves him well here."

The only thing that this debut feature from the studio optimistically crowned 'Playstation Productions' really wants is payoffs. Lots of them, as quickly and as often as possible. This is the sort of film that is terrified to ask for patience from its audience. Every scene is designed to pack in as many new set pieces, twists and buddy-buddy quipping as is humanely possible, lest the viewers at home check their phones and never come back.

And it largely works.

The film is as thin as wet paper, and the rapport between Nate and his morally challenged mentor Sully (Mark Wahlberg) feels written by a committee of dozens mining Twitter for latest comedy goldmines, and yet there is a simple pleasure to how relentlessly dumb Uncharted proves to be. Indeed, I would contend it is a film barely worth criticising, if only because it is interested only in proving Scorsese right. This is a dumb, schlocky roller-coaster of quick twists, well-constructed set-pieces and a very game performance from Tom Holland, whose meta-narrative to be taken more seriously as an adult man serves him well here (the film's greatest, and most accidental laugh comes early, when one realises that fifteen years have supposedly passed for Tiernan Jones to age into Tom Holland, despite Holland still not looking a day over sixteen).

Indeed, to the shock of no one more than this critic, Uncharted might actually be the film to solve the decades-old curse on video game movie adaptations. The solution? Don't overthink it.


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