Review: Tom Holland's action-packed 'Uncharted' maps out a forgettable Indiana Jones knockoff

It’s a rather impressive feat to bury Tom Holland’s considerable charisma, though that is one of the few aspects where his new film “Uncharted” actually succeeds.

Based on the popular video game series (which somewhat dooms it from the start) and directed by Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”), the vanilla action adventure (★★ out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters Friday) is an Indiana Jones knockoff that pretty much misses everything “Raiders of the Lost Ark" did well. As young fortune hunter Nathan Drake, Holland takes off the Spider-Man mask and embraces daring stunt scenes a la Tom Cruise, but it’s all for naught in this uninspired triviality that does just enough interesting things to be frustrating.

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Nate is a New York bartender with a big brain who can tell you everything you need to know about the history of the Negroni cocktail but also has a tendency to steal stuff. He meets Sully (Mark Wahlberg), a guy who specializes in “private acquisitions” (aka he steals ancient stuff) and also knows Nate’s big brother Sam.

Nate was separated from his sibling a decade ago and has been receiving postcards from various locales around the world since. Sully tells Nate that he and Sam were partners tracking the infamous lost gold from Magellan’s 16th-century trip around the world when Sam vanished. Using an old diary and some important artifacts, Sully and Nate embark on a globetrotting quest to find the treasure as well as Sam.

The journeymen run into Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), a fellow adventurer who doesn’t trust Sully and thus is wary of Nate as well. Their main foe is Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), whose family financed Magellan’s trip back in the day and now wants the loot for himself, though he tends to disappear too often to be a proper villain. Much more dangerous is relentless mercenary leader Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), one of the better characters in this international affair.

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Chloe (Sophia Ali) teams with Nate (Tom Holland) to find treasure and his brother in "Uncharted."
Chloe (Sophia Ali) teams with Nate (Tom Holland) to find treasure and his brother in "Uncharted."

Nate, Sully and Chloe piece together various clues to find the treasure and naturally stumble into every sort of deadly situation one can imagine. Mid-air conversations on top of a falling car? Sure! Airborne sailing ships? Yep, that’s a thing. There are a few scenes that at least feel a little fresh – including one involving a fire-breathing bit in a dance club – but mainly it’s a whole bunch of far-fetched sequences with C-grade special effects where even James Bond would be like, “Come on, lads, this is too much.”

Wahlberg does his usual sarcastic schtick here opposite Holland, which would be all right except brotherly bickering and nonstop one-liners are what count for character development in “Uncharted.” None of the characters are all that likable – again, Holland does what he can but Nate’s personality is all over the place – and there’s so much double- and triple-crossing that you wonder who you’re supposed to be rooting for way too often.

Not that strong personalities and deep-rooted themes are the point here – if you want that out of a Holland movie, go see “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” This is the launching of what hopes to be an “Uncharted” movie franchise (with end-credits scenes and everything), full of Easter eggs for gamers and a shiny young new hero to maybe one day inherit Indy’s big-screen mojo.

Holland is a present and future Hollywood star, for sure. But don’t get played: This Nathan Drake couldn’t hold Dr. Jones’ formidable fedora.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Uncharted' review: Tom Holland maps out bland Indiana Jones knockoff