WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Uncharted, now playing in theaters.
Uncharted is a largely forgettable action-adventure film. Despite the efforts of the film’s leads, Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, in the roles of Nathan Drake and Sully respectively, the action is largely forgettable and familiar to fans of the genre. However, Uncharted has one genuinely great sequence: the film’s explosive finale aboard a pirate ship as it’s being flown through the air. The scene ends up taking so many unapologetically goofy turns that it breathes a sense of bombastic wonder into the otherwise lifeless adventure film, and it hints at the kind of fun a fully ridiculous Uncharted could have been.
Uncharted is a globe-trotting adventure, typically playing out in fairly basic fashion. Chases across the rooftops, dungeon adventures and escapes from high society auctions play out with a familiar edge that doesn’t help them stand out. Coupled with a wooden script, it leaves the film workmanlike and forgettable.
Even the more action-packed moments in the film — such as Nathan’s attempts to climb back atop a hanging collection of supply crates into a plane — don’t end up truly impressing, with the dodgy special effects and exaggerated movement not gelling with the otherwise dramatic intent of the scene. Plus, it’s hard for Nathan’s attempts to interrogate Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) to have their full dramatic weight when it happens while Nathan also dodges giant boxes.
However, there’s one sequence toward the end of Uncharted that actually succeeds, thanks in large part due to the ridiculous nature of the set-piece. Coming at the end of Uncharted, Nathan and Sully discover the long-lost treasure-laden ships of the Magellan expedition. However, Braddock and her forces also arrive and use helicopters to lift the centuries-old ships out of the cave they’d been sitting in. Hiding aboard one of the ships and deciding they need to hijack the boat before they are both captured and executed, the pair split up — while Sully climbs the chains tying the helicopter to the ship, Drake makes his away across the deck. The ensuing chaos sees the pair fighting back-to-back against Braddock’s soldiers, using the leftover weapons of former explorers against the guards.
Eventually, Sully reaches the helicopter and hijacks it, leaving Braddock’s men to give chase in the other copter, resulting in an aerial pirate ship chase. The whole time, Braddock’s men try to get the better of Drake, who scrambles and improvises ways to defeat the far more physically imposing enemies.
It’s an absolutely ridiculous sequence, especially on the heels of Braddock ordering her men to take care not to damage the ships in the slightest before setting them up for air combat. It’s also an unapologetically bonkers brawl, with henchmen being thrown into the ocean, splattered against nearby rocks and eventually even shot out of the sky by Drake firing a cannon whilst in mid-air. Along the way, both ships are irrevocably damaged, Braddock is killed and the antiquity find of the decade is lost under the sea.
For a movie that’s often suggested it’s a monumental adventure, this pirate ship chase through the sky is the closest thing Uncharted gets to having something unique and exciting. Most of the rest of the film feels like attempts to recreate the magic of the games or reproduce the feeling of an Indiana Jones film, neither of which succeeds. However, by throwing reality out the window and embarking on a genuinely absurd confrontation, Uncharted gets at least one seriously memorable set-piece. While the character consistency in the moment is underwritten, it’s clear Holland and Wahlberg are having a blast doing it. If the film had been more akin to this set piece, it might have been a more memorable film as a whole.
To see the pirate chase through the air, Uncharted is now in theaters.
KEEP READING: Why Tom Holland Seriously Struggled With Playing Uncharted’s Nathan Drake