A romp in the jungle that looks dazzling but lacks substance
Based on the 2009 book of the same name, The Lost City Of Z features Charlie Hunnam (from Sons Of Anarchy) as real historical figure Percy Fawcett, a British soldier who made seven expeditions to South America between 1906 and 1925. Three are shown in this adaptation. The first sees him tasked by the Royal Geographical Society with mapping out the Bolivia-Brazil border. He discovers pottery remains in the jungle and returns to England convinced of the existence of an unknown civilisation.
Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, Fawcett leaves the military and returns to the Amazon a year later to search for the city he names ‘Z’. The expedition fails, so Fawcett returns to Europe to volunteer in the First World War, where he’s injured in a gas attack and left unable to travel. Here, the film skips forward a decade to Fawcett, now aged 57, agreeing to accompany his son Jack (played by Tom Holland) on one final attempt to locate ‘Z’. Arriving in Brazil in 1925, the party are hampered by a lack of funding, murderous natives and Fawcett’s now ailing body. It climaxes in an emotional and dreamlike finale.
The film is a new take on the adventure romp (see: King Solomon’s Mines, Raiders Of The Lost Ark) that looks great and features some thrilling action sequences too. One scene sees the adventurers caught in the middle of a battle between two warring tribes, arrows zipping past their ears as they make their escape, and it’s the most exciting bit of the film. But although Hunnam’s performance is a composed one, it lacks potency and feels wooden. Better in supporting roles are Sienna Miller as the doting wife back in Blighty and Robert Pattinson as our hero’s eccentric, bearded assistant. And at over two hours, the film drags. Which is a shame, because a story this good deserves to be turned into an all-time classic.
Director: James Gray