Movie Review: Jungleland
by Julie Perez
Where do you go when you’ve made a home out of rock bottom?
Jungleland is an interesting take on the classic boxing movie, it stumbles into the grit and heart of the genre while finding new ways to tell a familiar story. When a loss in a boxing match leave brothers, Lion (Jack O’Connell) and Stanley (Charlie Hunnam), in debt to Pepper (Jonathan Majors) they agree to drop off Sky (Jessica Barden) in Reno on their way to San Francisco. San Francisco holds a world of possibilities for the brothers, a chance at a boxing match with a prize of $100,000 is what keeps them going after their trip becomes complicated.
The chemistry between Jack O’Connell and Charlie Hunnam is where the heart of the film is. Their brotherly-banter, combined with the raw moments between the two, feel absolutely real and are what drive most of the film. Unfortunately, the rest of the plot finds itself so predictable that you don’t get much out of it by the end. It takes too long to give us an emotionally-heavy moment and when the conflict between Lion and Stanley come to a head, the moment dissipates too quickly to leave an impression.
More than that, the film spends too much time asking us to invest in Lion and Sky’s relationship. Unfortunately, we are given too many longing shots of them in silence instead of building a story between them that relies on vulnerable conversation. However, where Sky and Lion fail, Charlie Hunnam’s Stanley thrives. Charlie Hunnam continues to give emotionally-riveting performances and will once-again be overlooked because the film, as a whole, misses the landing. I am convinced that Hunnam can have chemistry with a piece of paper and he gives Stanley enough heart that you’ll be in his corner the entire time. He also gives us all of the complexities that leave us satisfied as to why the film ends the way that it does. Hunnam continues to give his best in any project that he is in and it’s about time he gets recognized for it.
Jungleland gives new life to characters that we have seen before. This film is ambitious and though it doesn’t quite do what it intends to, it’s still an enjoyable watch that will fill a few hours during these Quarantimes.
You can now watch Jungleland on VOD.