Partially filmed in Northern Ireland, ‘The Lost City of Z’ tells the true story of explorer Percy Fawcett and his various expeditions into South America. The film stars ‘Sons of Anarchy’ front man Charlie Hunnam in the leading role with a collection of other well known names making up the supporting cast. So would this adventure biopic be territory better left uncharted or an amazing new cinematic discovery?
The film starts really well. It takes time to establish characters and understand them so when the story really begins we can appreciate how they feel and act. However, once this narrative is kick started it can’t help but feel a little rushed. Telling the story of a man and his expeditions spanning several decades was always going to be challenging though. The constant back and forth between locations is at times hard to keep up with. The problem of having too much story to tell is particularity evident in the third act. In this section of the film almost every scene feels like it is going to be the final scene, resulting in numerous false endings. The challenge of fitting in so much narrative and pacing it correctly has made the film come slightly undone in its structure and unfortunately the film ends up being a tad too long. Despite this issue I’m confident that when watching the film for a second time, knowing full well the extent of the narrative, this problem won’t have nearly the same impact that it did the first time.
However, the impact is never powerful enough to detract from the viewers enjoyment as the quality of the screenplay is still so high. There are so many wonderful moments and sequences littered throughout the film that even with an uneven structure there is always something fantastic on screen to keep your attention. There is plenty of substance to this screenplay and it addresses many issues including racism, equality, war and family. There are several occasions when particular conflicts arise allowing characters to debate the aforementioned subjects. I found these moments to be especially engaging and to enhance the already interesting narrative.
It was also these moments that enable the cast to showcase the extent of their abilities. As I’ve already mentioned Charlie Hunnam plays the lead role of explorer Percy Fawcett. He does so with an unshakeable confidence and was incredibly impressive as the leading man. This commanding performance could well be his career best. Playing his on screen wife is Sienna Miller. More often then not in today’s cinematic climate actresses are relegated to playing poorly written wives, daughters or mothers. This couldn’t be further from the truth here though. Miller has the privilege to play a well written female character who is given much more to do than she would be in other similar roles. Miller takes full advantage of this acting as a strong equal to Hunnam’s character. Robert Pattinson plays a fellow explorer alongside Hunnam, often in unrecognisable form. Miles away from his work in popular teen franchises Pattinson continues to add to his canon of strong performances with his work here. Rounding off the main supporting cast is BAFTA Rising Star winner Tom Holland. The young actor doesn’t have masses of screen time but he makes sure to take his chances when the script allows it. His acting here completes a quartet of brilliant performances and further proves why there is such a buzz around this up and coming actor.
So with these fantastic performances bringing to life these real life figures the film was always going to have a great chance at success. Coupled with the fascinating screenplay, which is full of interesting themes and powerful messages, the narrative consistently entertains. It has to be said that fitting the whole story into one coherent film hasn’t quite been achieved. However, this can’t take away from the unmissable sense of passion present in so many of the characters that was contagious for me as a viewer. The film swept me away into the Amazonian jungles feeling like a film from the golden age of Hollywood.
Rating – 8.5/10
Question: What is your favourite Charlie Hunnam film performance?
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