The Lost City of Z is a well intentioned true-life adventure film which doesn’t quite stoke the burning fires of greatness. James Gray’s film looks fantastic and it offers up some impressive visuals, but the film is very episodic and you never really get to fully experience the trials and tribulations of Charlie Hunnam’s Percy Fawcett.
At the turn of the 20th Century Fawcett was sent by the Royal Geographical Society to to survey the borders of Brazil and Bolivia, but whilst on his first expedition he finds traces of a lost civilisation, which he names ’Z’ (As in ‘Zed’s dead, baby’, not Zee). He become obsessed with finding the city, which turns his colleagues against him and drives him to the brink (one of the only places he finds with ease).
Hollywood is currently courting Charlie Hunnam as a viable leading man and he makes for solid enough central anchor in Gray’s pic. He’s good without being outstanding, but he doesn’t quite have the ticks and quirks that make Robert Pattinson’s Henry Costin so interesting. Everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, Tom Holland makes an appearance during the half-way mark as Fawcett’s grown-up son, who tags along on his father’s later adventures into the unknown. Sienna Miller turns-up as the oh, so supportive wife, but these little interjections kill the momentum of The Lost City of Z and every time I felt that I got invested in one of his expeditions, Fawcett is pulled back home to smokey rooms in Blighty to discuss his journey before catching up with his wife you keeps telling him how much she loves him.
When I watch a film like The Lost City of Z, I want to immerse myself in the journey, I want to feel the heat and the sweat of the jungle and I didn’t get that with this. Sure, they might be wanting to make a tale that fits history but you don’t do that at the expense of good filmmaking. This could have been a great jungle drama but it doesn’t get the pulse racing, despite a few good moments. It’s far from bad, but it just comes across as very superficial.
I wanted to invest emotion as well as time in The Lost City of Z, but I ultimately I walked away from a film that, although not instantly forgettable, won’t linger too long in your memory.