You can be forgiven for momentarily thinking that the latest production from Disney’s adaptation maestro Jerry Bruckheimer might have come from a theme-park ride — no, that’s the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise — or that it's based on the wild escapades of an explorer trying to lay his hands on a magical artifact (a National Treasure, maybe).
No, this time Bruckheimer has set his sights on bringing a video game to life, and when you consider the source material (and Bruckheimer’s modus operandi), this is a perfect fit because there’s action galore and little or no need for character development. Who needs a Johnny Depp or a Nicolas Cage to go through the motions when a beefed up Jake Gyllenhaal is waiting in the wings? Plus, you can dispense the story elements with a few carefully chosen bits of exposition at the beginning and jump from one action set piece to another. Even better, you can get around the pesky notion that your player/character might actually get killed by allowing him to use the magical dagger with the red button (the joystick) on the bottom to replay key sequences over.
Bruckheimer wisely brought in Mike Newell, the director of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, to take the helm, which means that for all the zipping around, there’s the sense of a steady hand in control. I would say that it demands to be experienced on its own, but that’s far too strong an expression. The movie demands nothing at all. It plays out before your eyes, and when its over you walk briefly into the real world for sustenance before returning to some other simulated narrative, as the sands of time continue to slip away in the seemingly never-ending game of life. Grade: C