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Words: Shane Ramdhany

Reuben Fleischer’s latest thriller contains all the panache of Nathan Drake’s exploits, blended with a story that doesn’t quite transcend beyond superficiality. It ultimately yields a simultaneously entertaining and uneven two hour romp. 

The film moves at a quick pace, hastily establishing its leads personalities and motives.  It is clear that the goal is to conceptualise and execute a relationship built on the behavioural antics of Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan aka “Sully” (Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg).  However, this relationship is inevitably unrealised and is primarily driven by the charisma of its male duo. The expectation is that we embrace the love/hate dynamic elicited by Nate and Sully, which is simply not attainable as the viewer is often left confused or mildly charmed at best.

A driving factor of the lacklustre relationships is attributed to dialogue that is serviceable at its best and painfully jarring at its worst.  Wahlberg and Holland have demonstrated the potential to develop the chemistry that the film yearns for but are left unsupported by a script that produces consistent sequences of missed opportunities. A feeling of frustration is likely to settle in at some point as the viewer attempts to reconcile what they are given with all the possibilities of what could be for the leading duo.   

While dialogue fails to captivate the viewer and evolve its cast beyond superficial tropes, the film compensates for this sleight with unrivalled action sequences.  Its excellent choreography infuses the film with a much needed sensation of white knuckle tension. These moments propel the film forward and, thankfully, exist frequently enough to enable to viewer to more easily digest its weaker elements such as the aforementioned dialogue.  This pattern produces a simultaneous feeling of reward and relief.

The film’s cast also drives the story up from mediocrity as often as they can and enable it to transition from subpar to serviceable in many instances.  Holland is especially skilled at capturing Nathan Drake’s range of qualities that frequently pivot from silly and goofy to quick-witted and precise.  Holland  masterfully interchanges these traits as the situation demands.  Wahlberg earnestly captures Sully as a father figure whose heart isn’t always in the right place. Tati Gabrielle manages to outshine Antonio Banderas as the malevolent force with as sharp a performance as the blade she wields.  

Uncharted is a movie that will satisfy fans of the games through its unparalleled choreography which captures the series spirit. However, fans will also struggle with dialogue and storytelling that doesn’t quite match the precision of its frenetic moments. The film reaches the ascent of effective entertainment thanks to its action, much like Drake from one deadly climb to the next.

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