“Lost, not gone. There’s a difference. If something’s lost, it can be found.”
The first feature from PlayStation Productions was the obvious choice and yet also perhaps the most misguided — Naughty Dog’s Uncharted videogame franchise was designed as a cinematic experience, drawing inspiration from the likes of Indiana Jones, but this also means there is little more for a live action production to offer. Practical effects might have provided more grounded, visceral action; instead the action is so obviously green-screened — with videogamey CGI (particularly in aerial sequences) and conspicuous cutting around stunt performers — that the non-interactive experience offers no discernible benefit. Time has also diminished the film’s relevance, as Drake’s videogame journey concluded six years ago. In fact, Uncharted was stuck in pre-production for so long that Mark Wahlberg aged out of consideration for Nathan Drake and into the role of his mentor. Casting a further shadow is how perfect Nathan Fillion would have been for the role of Drake (as demonstrated in a wonderful little fan film — over the intervening four years it became a running joke that I would bring it up as the “real” Uncharted film). Tom Holland provides the requisite charm but not quite enough swagger, and his young Drake feels ill-formed as a character, whilst the rest of the cast is a rogue’s gallery of predictable and shallow caricatures. The story of hunting for the lost gold of Magellan is serviceable with a few moments of intrigue, like Drake learning to test his companion’s trustworthiness, but there is no soul to this adventure. Perhaps it is only lost; I fear it is gone.
“Welcome to Zombieland. Back for seconds? After all this time? Well, what can I say, but thank you. You have a lot of choices when it comes to zombie entertainment, and we appreciate you picking us.”
Zombieland was an unexpected gem, a cynical and yet strangely joyous take on the apocalypse. Although fans clamoured for a sequel, the rising stars of Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone meant that it took a full decade to arrive and in many ways that is Double Tap‘s biggest problem in a saturated genre, even as Columbus addresses it in his introductory voice over. The chief culprit is the script which, although it contains a few laugh-out-loud moments, is largely a retread of the original’s road trip formula. The handful of new characters we meet are one-note caricatures rather than rounded individuals with the emotional depth that elevated Zombieland. Similarly, the high energy of a mid-credits flashback sequence serves only to highlight how muted Double Tap often feels. The result: a frequently entertaining but decidedly shallow sequel that offers no reason to rewatch it rather than its predecessor.
“I don’t know what to do, man. All these sites have different shit. There’s not a lot of consensus in the bomb disarming community!”
Ruben Fleischer’s feature-length follow-up to the excellent Zombieland is neither as fresh nor as successful, though much of the blame lies with a “comedy” script in which I can barely identify a single actual joke. With a hapless pizza delivery driver forced to rob a bank when two incompetent criminals strap a bomb to his chest, 30 Minutes or Less has the sensibilities of a slacker/stoner movie, where a functionally coherent plot is generally considered sufficient. Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari commit to their roles but their talents are largely wasted here. Thankfully, the film is only one and a half hours long; preferably it would have been 30 minutes or less.