Complete A-Z list

Lost City of Z, The


Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfadyen, Edward Ashley, Clive Francis, Ian McDiarmid, Franco Nero, Matthew Sunderland, Johann Myers, Daniel Huttlestone, Harry Melling

Director: James Gray

The producers of this rousing adventure (including Brad Pitt who, along with Benedict Cumberbatch was considered for the lead role but fortunately never qualified) deserve praise for deciding to cast an actor rather than a self-admiring Hollywood action star to play British soldier-turned-explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett, the extraordinary hero of this true-life saga.

Instead, they chose Hunnam, who stands out as a credible (unlike the strictly celluloid Indiana) nascent Indiana-Jones-style pioneer who, possessed by ambition but still patently human and emotionally supported by his frequently left-behind wife Nina (Miller, excellent in an essential but essentially supporting role) led quest after quest into the Amazonian jungles in search of a legendary lost city…

Director-screenwriter Gray does a fine job in both categories, with his potent screenplay on David Gann’s best-selling non-fiction biography "The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” and vividly brings to life Fawcett’s thrilling adventures in the Amazonian jungles, ranging from dangerous navigation down uncharted waterways, (“The river is always danger”), dodging cascades of arrows fired by angry tribesmen and equally dangerous local flora and fauna (to say nothing of coming across an Italian opera being gaudily staged in the middle of the jungle).

Pattinson, bearded and unrecognizable (to me, at any rate!) is effective as Hunnan’s regular aide de camp and there is excellent support throughout with performances that add power to Hunnan’s riveting lead.

Gray’s staging of WW! War footage involving Hunnan, is powerful and convincing too, adding impact to a good-looking epic-style drama that benefits considerably from colourful Columbian jungle locations, good period detail and Darius Khondji’s colourful cinematography.

Yes, you could argue that The Lost City of Z (could it be renamed ‘Zee’ in the US, in which case could it end up with Fawcett being renamed “Tap” here to even things out?) is basically a riff on Indiana Jones. But that would be so wrong. Hunnan is a powerful actor who makes Fawcett - flaws and all - a credible human being rather than simply creating one more shirt-off action hero.

In summary, it’s an enjoyably watchable movie that gratifyingly confirms the line of dialogue, "Sounds like a great adventure".

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour.
140 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Apr 2017