It’s been a long time since I’ve been au fait with PlayStation games. These days, if I’m sitting down to play a game, it’s far more likely to be something that resembles my day job. I play factory games where processes are designed and outputs are optimized and other tedious stuff like that. My days of dropping my PS Controller in fright because a wolf lept out of nowhere to attack Lara Croft are decades behind me. And yet, I feel like the Uncharted game is still from my era. Why on earth are they making a movie of this now? Should we expect Daley Thompson’s Decathalon to get a theatrical release this summer?

The truth of the matter is that this has been in Development Hell since around 2009 with David O. Russell, Neil Burger, Seth Gordon, and Dan Trachtenberg all being lined up to direct at various points before the spinning bottle finally settled on Ruben ZombieLand Fleischer. It’s been lingering around unmade for so long that Mark Wahlberg has aged from being the leading actor to the supporting actor. Tom Holland, who replaced Wahlberg in the lead role, has been signed up since 2017 where, if possible, he looked even younger. Even discounting COVID, this has been a difficult birth. So was it worth the effort, then?

Well, things start off interestingly enough. In a move that is becoming more common these days, we open in the middle of the action, sans title card, with Tom Holland’s Nate Drake coming round in the unlikely position of having his foot caught in a rope that’s holding a string of cargo as it falls out of the back of a plane in flight. As ridiculous as it seems, it’s perfectly in keeping with the computer origins. It’s imaginable as a level in a game; one of the levels where you expect to die a lot.

We learn that the opening scene really comes from a point about two-thirds of the way through the story, so we jump about a bit as we learn that Nate and his brother, Sam, were orphaned at an early age, but have grown up loving tales of Magellan’s expedition (big hit with orphans, apparently) and with a penchant for stealing antique maps and artifacts. They’re caught and Sam goes on the lam for the next ten years.

We next meet Nate serving bar in New York and pickpocketing in his spare time when he’s introduced to Wahlberg’s Sully, a conniving, older fortune hunter who has heard tales of Magellan’s lost treasure and may have information about Sam’s whereabouts, if only Nate would help him steal a golden cross thought to be a key to reaching further clues and lots and lots of gold. Meanwhile, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, and Tati Gabrielle care enough to varying degrees to try and beat them through the series of clues left behind by 16th Century Spanish sailors, who let’s face it absolutely loved clues, traps, and poison arrows shooting out of stone blocks.

If it sounds like you’ve heard this before, and you suspect you’ve seen this before, you’re right. For all the impressive set pieces, the sheer disregard for physics, gravity, and probability, when you boil it down, if you’ve seen National Treasure, you’ve already seen this done much better.

Tom Holland is a charming presence, although it takes a while to get used to him being old enough to be a bartender, not helped by his propensity to put his big old man nipples on display every half-hour or so. He delivers his quips and one-liners far better than most of the feedlines deserve and he moves around the screen with the indestructible fluidity of his sprite equivalent. Wahlberg is less impressive and when he goes walkabout for an extended period, it’s hard not to imagine the whole affair would’ve been better off without him

Fleischer directs like he knows this is not his best work, and if there’s a sense of urgency through the movie, where perhaps it would help if people took a quick breath to explain exactly what they think is going on, it’s probably because he wanted it to be over and done with as quickly as possible. Wahlberg has his one foot out the door from before the halfway point.

There are a few laughs to be had, and a few genuinely thrilling sequences, but vast swathes of it make no sense and it’s almost like corners were cut because everyone involved knew you could fill in the blanks from the other times you’ve seen this play out.