I always feel like a bit of a philistine when I have to review a movie based on a book that I haven’t read. Yet I have no qualms about saying this movie is based on a video game that I not only have never played, but never heard of. That’s probably a good thing, as I would have gone in with expectations of hating it. Instead, my wife and I were immediately swept up in it and we had a blast. I was thinking of movies I didn’t care for – Mummy, National Treasure, Da Vinci Code and Tomb Raider; and just as I realized this is more like Raiders of the Lost Ark, in terms of quality of picture, my wife leaned in and said, “This really reminds me of Raiders of the Lost Ark.” And literally 30 seconds later on the screen, a character tells another she’s being an “Indiana Jones.”
Tom Holland plays Nathan Drake, a guy that’s a bit of a charmer, and petty thief. He’s slinging drinks like Tom Cruise in Cocktail [side note: I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d reference Cocktail in a movie review]. Mark Wahlberg shows up, and tells him there are bigger things to steal than jewelry from rich women. Soon Holland is using a lot of his Spidey skills in various fights, but what’s nice is he doesn’t look like a wet-behind-the-ears teen. He feels like a guy in his mid-20s who’s had a hard life (the film starts with him and his brother being separated at an orphanage).
Wahlberg plays “Sully” and…with a helicopter, he has some skills that rival the Sully that landed the plane on the Hudson. Sully had once worked with Nathan’s older brother in a search for Ferdinand Magellan’s lost gold. Nathan and Sully team up to travel to various, beautiful locales. The only problem is Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) is also on their tail. In a movie with Holland and Wahlberg, for my money, Banderas is by far the most handsome of the bunch (I’m comfortable enough with my sexuality that I can state that). Even with his almost Caesar haircut, he is captivating (okay, now I’m going on a bit too much about his handsomeness). What’s even more beautiful to me than Banderas is the red, 1955 Mercedes Gullwing he drives. It’s a shame that the movie starts off with us seeing it flying out of an airplane (I’m guessing the gullwings won’t work to keep it flying in the air).
Santiago has a sidekick named Braddock (the beautiful Tati Gabrielle), and the way she fights and works with a small blade, made me think she would have been great in the last Bond film. In fact, this entire movie was more fun than the last Bond film. But I digress. The other heavies in this movie, one being a big Scottish guy who you can’t understand, was a bit too cartoonish, but I did think of Brad Pitt’s character in Snatch when Drake mentions not being able to understand him. The two treasure hunters, and a woman they meet up with (Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer), never trust each other. It creates a fun repertoire, and there’s good chemistry between the trio. There were also a number of humorous moments that worked.
Since I was enchanted by the many set pieces and special effects, I was able to throw logic out the window. The movie never took itself too seriously, but it also didn’t feel like just some dumb video game. An adventure film could easily fall into those traps. So while my wife and I did laugh on the way home, wondering why a ship from hundreds of years ago wouldn’t fall apart just from someone walking on the deck, or a canon actually working (perhaps a spoiler alert was needed there), it’s the type of fun movie that is so enjoyable to see on the big screen. You grab your popcorn, jump, laugh, and have a great time.
Don’t believe all the critics knocking this movie. It’s a lot of fun, especially in IMAX. 3 ½ stars out of 5. Also, It also had the most interesting cameo in movie history. It’s a cameo that doesn’t involve a famous actor, and 98% of audiences won’t get. My wife had to explain it to me, and I can’t stop thinking about how brilliant it was. It involves a man on the beach making a comment. Look out for it.