" I want a car; chicks dig the car "
— Chris O’Donnell, Batman and Robin

MRQE Top Critic

The Good Lie

Charismatic leads and a good heart prove enough for tale of Lost Boys —Marty Mapes (review...)

Duany laughs at The Good Lie

Sponsored links

“All that matters now is the future.” — Mr. Percy Fawcett
“Have fun — and be bold.” — Mrs. Nina Fawcett

When it comes to exploration, Percy Fawcett was the real deal and this movie rather elegantly captures the man and his character.

The Lost World

Charlie Hunnam is Percy Fawcett
Charlie Hunnam is Percy Fawcett

It’s a compliment to say this 140-minute adventure should’ve been longer. That’s largely a reflection of the magnitude of Fawcett’s life and work. More time could’ve been used to unflinchingly explore more of the fantastical and brutal — but true — parts of his tale.

Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam, Pacific Rim) lived in a golden age for exploration and anthropology. He dared to float the notion among a doubting Royal Geographical Society that he found the remains of an undocumented advanced civilization in South America. Antiquated views of the world and its disparate cultures still floated about in the early 20th century, even as technology marched forward with advancements like radio and airplanes.

And mustard gas and chlorine gas gutted the trenches of World War I, a conflict that was originally expected to be nothing more than a quick skirmish.

Percy Fawcett lived large. His adventures inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and he’s made cameo appearances in pop culture as old as Tintin and as recent as Indiana Jones. Quite fittingly for a man who lived a life of legend, nobody knows what happened to the guy in the end. He and his eldest son disappeared during one last attempt to find the Lost City of Z. To this day, adventure buffs and history fanatics from around the globe still set out to find answers, still facing the same dangerous elements that send most explorers to an early grave.

A Green Desert

A snooty line in the movie sums up Fawcett’s circumstances: “He’s unfortunate in his selection of ancestors.” His father was a drinker and a gambler and sent the family’s name into the mud. Ensconced in the British military, Percy’s been transferred around the British empire and he’s looking for action on the front lines. Instead, he’s set aside for a more peculiar mission: the mapping of Bolivia. Prognosis for success: unlikely at best. It’s fate. Destiny. A life forever changed.

A successful mission — expected to take a few years — would restore his family name.

It’s a story so elegant as to read like fine fiction and here director James Gray (The Immigrant) brings David Grann’s book to the big screen with a remarkable cast and a healthful respect for history that limits unnecessary dramatic embellishments.

In addition to Hunnam’s terrific take on Fawcett, Sienna Miller (American Sniper) plays Nina, Percy’s wife and match when it comes to inner strength. There’s also Robert Pattinson, who disappears behind his wire-rimmed eyeglasses as Fawcett’s best traveling partner, Henry Costin. Pattinson’s on a roll; his take on T.E. Lawrence was the highlight of Werner Herzog’s otherwise forgettable Queen of the Desert.

There’s also Ian McDiarmid, trading in his evil Empire of the Star Wars saga for something almost as austere, the Royal Geographical Society. And Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War) pops up as Percy’s oldest son, Jack.

The story sells itself, but this cast closes the deal.

Founders Gold

Fawcett was built for exploring; he was the kind of guy who could weather the elements while everyone around him fell by the wayside. With contemporaries like Ernest Shackleton tackling the Antarctic, T.E. Lawrence making history in the Middle East and Hiram Bingham finding Machu Picchu, it was truly a time when men were men.

Consider the movie as a terrific companion piece to Grann’s book. Both should be savored by fans of history and exploration.

And the movie gets bonus points for offering up a generous portion of quotable lines, including:
“Fight your own battles.”
“We are all made of the same clay.”
“The jungle is hell, but one kind of likes it.”
“We shall find the glory!”
“It is not possible to take a safe passage through life.”