British Army Officer Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) has never progressed as far has he would like within the army, but when he is assigned to an exploration mission with the Royal Geographical Society to map the uncharted jungles of Bolivia, he finds a passion for the uncharted lands and the mysteries they hold, that he never expected. Fawcett believes there is an ancient lost city waiting to be discovered in the jungle, but when he sets out on his third voyage into Bolivia with his son Jack (Tom Holland), the mystery deepens even further.
Based on David Grann’s novel of the same name – which, in turn, is based on real events – The Lost City of Z should be a thrilling adventure into the unknown, but even though the film comes in at 141 minutes, we never get to learn just what drives Fawcett to continue to risk his life in the jungle.
The cast is made up of Charlie Hunnan, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller and Angus Macfadyen, and while each of them do well enough with their roles, none of them really get the chance to flesh out the characters to feel real or relatable. Tom Holland has a small chance to bring Jack Fawcett to life properly, as his character runs the gamut of emotions for the small time that he is on screen, and Robert Pattinson’s role is worth mentioning since it is a notably unshowy character for the actor.
The screenplay is adapted from David Grann’s novel by James Gray, and although the story may have worked well on the page, there does not seem to be a narrative arc for much of the film, as the characters simply bounce back and forth from Bolivia to the UK to Ireland to World War II and back to Bolivia. This leaves the film feeling scattered and messy, and given the fact that the audience is never truly given a chance to get to know the characters – especially Percival Fawcett’s motivations to keep walking away from his young family for years at a time – everything feels rather superficial throughout the film.
As director James Gray manages, surprisingly, to pace the 141 minute running time rather well, and even though there is a superficial feeling to the entire film, the story moves along at a decent pace. That said, the audience is often left hungry for more as Gray never fleshes out the characters properly, and even though we go on this adventure with these characters, we never truly engage with them and the discoveries they are making.
In all, The Lost City of Z is a disappointment, the cast never get a chance to flesh out their characters properly, and as a result, the audience never gets the chance to understand the passions and drive that keeps pushing these men to put their lives in danger.