For all those years on Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam, a British-born actor, struggled with an American accent so frequently he couldn’t pronounce the name “Tara” with any consistency — even in the same sentence. Now, playing the real-life soldier-turned-explorer Percy Fawcett in The Lost City Of Z, Hunnam’s blandly unremarkable dialect seems to brush up against a definable accent, which isn’t enough to invigorate his wholly mediocre performance.
That’s not to say that Hunnam is particularly bad, he’s just wholly uninteresting, painting his portrayal of the real-life Fawcett with such bland broad strokes he fails to make a character nuanced or compelling. One that we’re stuck with for the better part of two-and-a-half hours.
After a long and unnecessary opening, which sets up Fawcett as an outcast in high society, despite him holding the rank of Colonel in the Army, a man overshadowed by his father’s reputation, he’s sent to the Amazon Jungle to secure some rubber, and while there he discovers relics of previously unknown civilizations.
But rather than focus on one of Fawcett’s expeditions, The Lost City Of Z takes on too long a time frame to look at, and these jungle expeditions are cut into segments, which undercuts the severity of the conditions these characters go through. Yes, the jungle is hot. It’s disease-ridden. It’s filled with hostile tribes. But when the narrative freely bounces between these segments to the bureaucracy of early-20th-century Britain (which is by far the least interesting bureaucracy), it doesn’t command the same claustrophobic sensibility that it does in, say, Apocalypse Now, whose story barely leaves the boat, much less the jungle.
Despite its length, The Lost City Of Z never spends enough time in one setting, or with one plotline, to effectively map out a compelling story. He bounces in and out of the jungle, he has trouble relating to his eldest son (Tom Holland), and struggles with his marriage to his wife, Nina (Sienna Miller), who has all the dialogue and screentime of a supporting character, but none of the dimension.
Ultimately, it’s a series of vignettes that masquerades as an explorers life story, but told only in anecdotes, all of which lack compelling beginnings and endings. Which isn’t to say there aren’t some beautiful scenes scattered throughout the film, there just fail to hold themselves together to be considered a proper historical epic.
The Lost City of Z is now playing in theaters everywhere.