You’ll be interested in “The Lost City of Z” only if you enjoy adventure tales, non-fiction films or history. And that’s a pretty wide audience.
The movie, which is based on the best-selling book by David Grann from 2009, is about determined British soldier Lt. Col. Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam, television’s “Sons of Anarchy”), who explored South America.
The royal Geographical Society sends Fawcett and his team in 1906 to explore and map eastern Bolivia. His colleagues who accompany him include his aide-de-camp Henry Costin (an almost-unrecognizable Robert Pattinson) and Arthur Manley (Edward Ashley, “In the Heart of the Sea”).
Fawcett and his team not only find the source f the Rio Verde River, but what appears to be ancient pottery, and he becomes determined to find what he believes to be a lost city somewhere in the jungle. “For you, there is no escape from the jungle,” says his guide Tadjui (Pedro Coello).
Fawcett’s wife Nina (Sienna Miller, “Foxcatcher”) stays home in England and raises their children. One of them, Jack (Tom Holland, “Captain America: Civil War”) eventually becomes a fellow explorer.
He becomes so determined to find the lost civilization that he undertakes another expedition in 1911. When another, far less ambitious, explorer named James Murray (Angus Macfadyen, “Saw IV”) joins the crew, he turns out to be one of the biggest threats to Fawcett’s success.
It’s easy to be dismissive of Fawcett’s courage and determination – after all, few places are so unreachable now in the world that they haven’t been featured in a documentary or a television reality series. But 100 years ago, Fawcett’s dedication meant more than a few uncomfortable evenings in a tent before a flight home. He and those accompanying him face the threat of illness, accidents and unfriendly residents of the region at every turn.
Although this is an adventure story, it shouldn’t be mistaken for an actioner. Director James Gray takes his time telling the story, providing details of character development and Fawcett’s environments. It’s more of a dramatic telling of an adventure than an “Indiana Jones”-type movie.
The ensemble is capable, giving their characters believability with subtle performances. The notion of striving to overcome an undeserved social and political judgment is timeless, and Hunnam does a wonderful job of bringing this struggle to life.
If you’re unfamiliar with the book, what occurs toward the end of the film will surprise you (it would be a spoiler to tell you more). Some viewers may be put off by what can understatedly be viewed as a non-ending, while others will welcome the non-Hollywood approach.