17 Feb 2022

By Contributor

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

Sophia Ali and Tom Holland star in a scene from the movie “Uncharted.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Clay Enos, Sony Pictures)

A thin stringing together of stunts, Uncharted (Columbia) is a tiresome treasure hunt tale, adapted from a series of video games by director Ruben Fleischer.

While the film’s content is acceptable for grown-ups, and some of its sequences are undeniably impressive, its overall tone is off-key. So, too, is the momentary implication in the dialogue that rich people deserve to be robbed.

Viewers learn that misguided lesson while being introduced to the adult version of the adventure’s protagonist, bartender, and petty thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland). Told that a pretty patron lives in ritzy Greenwich, Connecticut, he first flirts with her, then purloins her diamond bracelet.

The script penned by Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway clearly indicates that, as a “trust fund girl,” the lass from the Nutmeg State had this coming.

Besides the approval of the screenplay, Nate’s smooth larceny also wins him the guarded admiration of a mysterious stranger, Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg).

Sully is a fortune hunter in possession of a lead about where he might find a cache of Spanish gold said to have been hidden by the companions of Ferdinand Magellan during the Age of Exploration.

This is not the first time either Nate or the audience has heard about the glittering horde in question.

Earlier flashbacks to Nate’s childhood in a Catholic orphanage have already carried some of the burden of exposition.

These scenes show us that it was their attempt to steal a priceless map with clues about the stash that led to youthful Nate (Tiernan Jones) and his beloved older brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) becoming permanently separated. Since Sully claims to have known and worked with Sam, Nate agrees to aid in his search.

He’s at least as anxious to reunite with Sam as to hit the jackpot.

Nate and Sully are later joined, in their globetrotting pursuit, by Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), a former associate of Sully’s.

As Chloe is quick to point out, however, her past experiences of the freebooter have left her unimpressed by Sully’s honesty or reliability.

This is an image from the video game “Uncharted: Golden Abyss.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -– adults. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board rating is T –- Teen. (CNS photo/Sony Computer Entertainment) (March 21, 2012) See VIDGAME REVIEW March 21, 2012.

In fact, the three-way partnership thus formed is hampered by constant mutual mistrust, hints of a possible romance between Nate and Chloe notwithstanding.

It’s also dogged by the opposition of Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a wicked mogul out to scoop up the booty for himself, and of his ruthless underling, Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle).

The importance of loyalty and the dangers of greed are the principal messages embedded in the story.

But the narrative celebrates trickery almost to the last while its anti-materialist theme seems half-hearted amid a scramble for instant wealth.

The picture’s passing treatment of religion also is ambiguous.

Nate’s time in the orphanage, for instance, has left him with a fear of formidable nuns, a phobia his companions delight in mocking.

When the hunt leads to a church in Barcelona, moreover, Nate expresses his reluctance to disturb its sacred fittings – then goes right ahead and does so anyway.

There’s nothing especially disturbing about all this, just vaguely jarring. As with Nate’s twofold motive for embarking on his quest, Uncharted can’t seem to map out a straightforward course and instead leaves moviegoers tacking and jibing toward a less-than-fulfilling destination.

The film contains considerable stylized violence with minimal gore, a couple of uses of profanity, numerous milder oaths as well as frequent crude and some crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.