The Lost City of Z Movie Review
Old school and classic in all the right ways, The Lost City of Z is a historical adventure that serves as one of the most overlooked films of 2017—but its lack of an emotional drive keeps it from being great. Meanwhile, Charlie Hunnam must continue his search for that career-making movie role, which, like the lost city, remains elusive.
Hunnam stars as British officer and explorer Percy Fawcett, who led several expeditions into the Amazon in the early 21st century before ultimately vanishing in 1925. The movie, based on the book by David Grann, is either semi-accurate or not all that accurate depending on what you read online, and depicts Fawcett as tireless in his efforts to find proof of a lost civilization in the Amazon. Hunnam delivers a strong, leading man performance, but his character—that of a seemingly perfect husband, father and leader—doesn’t offer him much opportunity to do anything interesting with the character.
Writer/director James Gray presents a technically flawless film, which, at two hours and 20 minutes, feels like an adventure epic of another era. He approaches the story with restraint, avoiding modern clichés or the tendency to rely on thrills and excitement. Instead, he relies on structure, steady pacing and beautiful cinematography to bring The Lost City of Z to life.
Nonetheless, Gray’s refusal to amp up excitement levels even when the story calls for it results in the film feeling monotonous at times. As mesmerizing as the film is for much of its running time, monotony unfortunately consumes the movie in its final 30 minutes—much of the compelling material comes early on, and as the story marches toward its inevitable conclusion, what occurs on screen feels like more of the same.
As well made as The Lost City of Z is, the movie would have benefited from not only telling the story of Percy Fawcett but of exploring what makes him tick. Hunnam establishes early on that he could handle whatever is thrown his way, so it would have been interesting to see him depict what motivated him to travel repeatedly into dangerous territory, leave his family for years on end, and ultimately meet his fate. The Lost City of Z is worth the journey, but further exploration into the psychological aspects would have led it to gold.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.