This is a week late, not because I was lacking enthusiasm for the film, but because I have been so busy this week, I really haven’t had a chance to sit down and put it in writing. This film is based on a video game I have never heard of, much less played. The structure does feel a bit like we are leveling up at each juncture to where we get the next amount of action and reward, and that is fine. It also feels like a puzzle film, where there is a mystery to solve at the next sequence and that also makes it feel a bit episodic. That being said, it was a totally enjoyable experience and one that gives me a little hope for the near future of movie theaters.

I would still like it if people would go to adult dramas and comedies in a theater, but for the moment I will settle for an action film with big set pieces, well known stars and fun special effects. The theater owners will be glad that this movie showed up in February, so that there was a reason for them to remain open. This is a big dumb event film that fulfills your need for fun without insulting your intelligence. If characters are a bit too standard and the quest is overdone, that doesn’t matter because the actors and the tech people seem to be putting their all into making it work for you. So maybe it does recycle “National Treasure”, “Indiana Jones” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” , those are all fun pictures and the bits of each that show up in this screenplay are supplemented by some nice work from the actors.

Tom Holland is the poster boy of the cinema world these days. After starring in the biggest blockbuster success since the pandemic started, he shows up here and does what a movie star is supposed to do, brings some charisma to the events of the story. He is joined by the older more veteran version of himself, Mark Walberg, who has past the stage of young lead to now take on the role of mentor, although still an active and well defined mentor as these stories will demand. 

Director Ruben Fleiser has made some films that I enjoyed, (Zombieland and Zombieland Double Tap), some that should have worked but didn’t (Gangster Squad) and one huge financial success that is mocked by aficionados of the source material (Venom).  I think the action groove is where he fits best, but it is apparent to me that the scripts he is working with and the way he is shooting things, character development is not his strong suit. The flashback sequence at the start of the film is about as close as you get to something reflecting real character arcs, but what can you expect from a movie based on a video game?

This is a perfect movie for a weekend afternoon with the family, or maybe date night, followed by pizza or burgers at a local joint that you know well. You will have a good time, a pleasant memory of the experience, but you may not remember much of the story or even the action scenes. I did like that the female lead is not simply a love interest but a character in the film who adds some drama to the proceedings and reminds us that everyone can be a little good as well as being a little bad.