The Double Cross of Indiana Croft
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali
Released February 18th, 2022
Though it’s based on a very successful video game franchise that started in 2007, I walked in to see this movie without any baggage or expectations, since I’ve never played any of the Uncharted video games. So, I won’t be able to tell you in this review what elements are taken from the games and what is created from whole cloth. But I can tell you I had a blast.
From Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, screenwriters of 2008’s Iron Man, comes a tale of orphaned brothers obsessed with treasure waiting to be seized with the help of one of Magellan’s maps. The Goonies are soon separated as older brother Sam Drake (Rudy Pankow) flies the coop, leaving younger brother Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) to fend off the orphanage nuns alone. Nate grows into a gentleman bartender pickpocket, tossing liquor bottles in the air and liberating expensive-looking bracelets from the patrons at his bar.
Before the film can become a millennial remake of Cocktail, Nate meets Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), who invites him on an adventure to find the Magellan map treasure, saying his older brother Sam, now deceased, always spoke highly of him. Somewhat reluctantly, Nate goes along with Sully, to find the treasure, and find out what happened to his brother. Soon they are on the trail of a golden cross linked to the treasure. Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) is yet another treasure hunter who gets mixed up with all of this, acting as a foil for Sully and love interest for Nate.
Meanwhile, Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) wants the artifact, believing it to be his birthright, as the golden cross once belonged to his family. He may have a point but sending his number one henchperson Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) to kill anyone who gets in his way is probably not the best way to do business. That all sounds very serious but let me assure you that this is a funny, easygoing film. After an engaging heist scene, the story moves to a standard Indiana Jones/Lara Croft let’s find the thing and put it in the other thing and get the treasure before the bad guys oh yeah watch out for booby traps. I appreciate that the MacGuffin that everyone is after is a literal double cross.
Nathan Drake is exactly the kind of role Tom Holland should be taking during his downtime from playing Peter Parker, as he may not always be able to handle the physical demands of a role like this. His parkour moves are believable, given that he is in incredible shape, and in case you’d ever doubt, he takes his shirt off a few times for good measure. Holland is full of charisma and general gee-whiz aw-shucks likeability, but I’m not convinced he is a very good actor. Perhaps he doesn’t have to be in a movie like this, as long as he can jump around like a spider……man.
Years ago, when the film was in development, Wahlberg was set to play Nathan Drake. While that would have worked, I enjoyed seeing him as the older, more curmudgeonly Sully. I don’t think of myself as a Wahlberg fan, but he has been good in many excellent films (The Departed, Boogie Nights, The Fighter). Sully, a true scoundrel of the shoot-first variety, is another winning role for him. There are plenty of thrills to be found here, and I’d bet you’ve never seen an action set-piece like the one in this film’s finale: a pirate ship chase – in the sky. Very impressive, and very much something you’d expect to see in a video game. There is a mid-credits scene that teases another adventure with Nate and Sully, and I say sign me up.
Video Games are a billion-dollar business yet attempts to adapt them into movies has traditionally been met with eye rolling from film critics and fans alike. Uncharted joins 2018’s Tomb Raider and 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog as evidence that movies based on video games are getting better. I’ve had fun with many films from director Ruben Fleischer, including Zombieland, Venom, and Gangster Squad, and I happily add Uncharted to that list. But let’s be clear: Fleischer’s best work is still the music video for Dance Commander by Electric Six.