In this age of Google Earth, GPS and data roaming it's hard to imagine a time when an explorer could set off into the jungle and not be able for years at a time. This movie wonderfully captures the old-fashioned daring and madness of its subject, British adventurer Percy Fawcett, a man whose search for a lost ancient city was really a more about finding himself.
And of course, casting Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett and Robert Pattinson as his faithful assistant Henry Costin doesn’t hurt (although fans hoping for gratuitous waterfall bathing scenes may feel short changed). Between 1906 and 1925 Fawcett set out on four expeditions to the heart of the Amazon. Costin was with him on three. On the way they had to deal with the worst the jungle could throw at them - floods, disease, snakes, piranhas, bugs and starvation.
The cast and crew had to deal with a fair few on that list too. Pattison has spoken about his biggest fear on set being the arbor viper, horrible things that “drop from trees and bite you in the face” while Hunnam once woke up in the night because a winged beetle was burrowing into his ear.
The toughness of the jungle, neatly contrasts with the mellow countryside of Fawcett's home life in Ireland and England. There we find his wife, Nina (Sienna Miller) gallantly trying to persuade him to give up or take her with him. The long-suffering wife at home is a familiar role for Miller (Foxcatcher, American Sniper), but it's played with enough gusto to convince that Nina was equally extraordinary, even if her upstream journey was against Victorian society rather than an Amazonian backwater.
There's a strong turn too from former Billy Elliot stage star Tom Holland as Fawcett's eldest boy, Jack. He shares his father's sense of adventure, and Holland does well in embodying the youthful wanderlust that his father slowly loses. A good sign for Holland's upcoming role as Spider-Man in the latest reboot of the franchise.
While any one of Fawcett's adventures would earn an abysmal TripAdvisor review, the telling of them here - meandering and mesmeric as it is - gets a definite thumbs up from us.
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