After his time with the Israeli army is over, Yossi (Daniel Radcliffe) sets out to find adventure. He travels to Bolivia where he meets Marcus (Joel Jackson). Yossi and Marcus quickly become friends. They run into Marcus’ old friend and photographer Kevin (Alex Russell). The three spend time together, still in search of an adventure.
Yossi meets Karl (Thomas Kretschmann) one day. Karl knows the Amazon jungle very well. He tells Yossi that he can take him and his friends to an Indian tribe living deep in the jungle. Excited by the though, Yossi convinces his friends to go along.
Shortly after they set out into the jungle, things take a turn for the worse. Yossi gets separated from the group. He must now survive the jungle and find his way to the village. Stranded alone, he must manage to keep his wits about him if he is to make it out of the jungle alive.
Jungle is based on the true story Yossi Ghinsberg’s trek through the Amazon.
At the beginning of the movie, Daniel Radcliffe’s accent was a bit grating. Over the course of the movie, you get used to it. While his performance isn’t quite on par with Leonardo DiCaprio’s in The Revenant, he is decent in the role, showing that he is more than just Harry Potter. Thomas Kretschmann’s character is perplexing. We don’t get much back story on Karl, so it is hard to understand his motives. It feels a little underdeveloped. Part of this can be attributed to the script, but I think it is mostly because Yossi himself didn’t really know anything about him. Neither Alex Russell nor Joel Jackson really has a fully developed character. They were fine in the film, but the roles could have been filled by anyone.
The story is strikingly similar to The Revenant. A man must make his way through an unknown, dangerous landscape to survive. The landscapes are as stunning as you would expect of a film set in the Amazon. There are several flashbacks and even a few scenes that are completely extemporaneous, adding little to the film. I expected them to have some relevance to what was happening or going to happen, but it never really materialized. Since the film is based on Yossi’s book, I’m assuming they are included as part of his actual experience. However, if they had excluded these scenes, the movie would have flowed a little better and tempered expectations of how they play into the narrative.
The fact that it is based on a true story helps give Jungle a little gravity and make it more interesting. There are several things that give away the ending, but it doesn’t really take away from the story. I found myself with questions about a couple of the characters at the end of the film. These are answered in the text just before the credits, giving you the epilogue that usually accompanies true stories. It actually makes the story just a bit more harrowing. I would say to way for a rental or RedBox on this one.