Greg McLean, the man who brought us movies like Wolf Creek and Rogue, decided to venture into the unknown. His hard, visual approach to directing did enhance the movie, but perhaps too much. So, what do we have here? A thriller/drama that’s really based on true events, without any additional gimmicks. This is basically a survival movie that reminded me of The Edge or The Revenant. Staying true to what actually transpired in the Bolivian jungle, McLean had to improvise in the beginning and towards the end of the movie, summoning the critics’ wrath. This is a slow-burner that relies heavily on the visuals and there’s nothing wrong with that. Daniel Radcliffe was phenomenal. He knew that most of this movie will be focused on him and his performance and he delivered. Definitely, this is not some kid who was Harry Potter, but an accomplished actor capable of amazing transformations.
Meet Yossi Ghinsberg, an adventurer always on the lookout for the next challenge. Fascinated by the Bolivian jungles, untouched by modern civilization he decides to visit and explore them. After working jobs all around the world to get enough money for this endeavor, Yossi finally finds himself in Bolivia. There he hooks up with two men looking for excitement in their lives, Marcus Stamm, a Swiss school teacher, and Marcus’s friend Kevin Gale. The crew will be complete when they finally meet a mysterious Austrian adventurer who speaks of lost tribes and gold…
Why do you have to go there or do that? This is the question that you will be asking, wondering why they’ve decided to venture into an obviously life-threatening situation. This is why the first part of the movie is important. It takes us into that wanderlust mode of living, where everything is possible and magical. I think that what’s “missing” here is an ideological framework that’s supposed to support the story. This is why the critics and audiences had trouble with this movie. It’s not like he’s trying to get to his wife and children or he’s carrying some sort of medicine that will save lives. No, he did what he did for his own “selfish” reasons and this is nature’s response. Immediately, empathy, one of the most powerful emotions is out of the window. Gen pop needs this structure to properly channel their emotional responses and subsequent behavior. Jungle is a story about a young man in the middle of his exploration period. Without any additional characters or events, we are left in Daniel Radcliffe’s competent hands, so just let him take you on a journey through some of the most beautiful and deadly places on Earth.
Director: Greg McLean
Writer: Yossi Ghinsberg, Justin Monjo
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Thomas Kretschmann, Alex Russell, Joel Jackson, Lily Sullivan, Yasmin Kassim
Fun Facts: Daniel Radcliffe intentionally slipped a couple of times when they were shooting near the river to freak out director Greg McLean