November 25, 2020
Jack O’Connell and Charlie Hunnam play brothers whose plans to escape poverty are threatened by a ruthless loan shark
Jungleland review – flimsy boxing drama pulls its punches
Stanley (Charlie Hunnam) and Lion (Jack O’Connell) are brothers, barely getting by on the wrong side of town. Lion has some talent as a boxer and Stan is his big-talking, relentlessly optimistic manager – so the plan is to drag themselves out of poverty in the time-honoured fashion, using only their fists and aggression. Plans go awry when Stan, in debt to a local loan shark (Jonathan Majors), is charged with delivering some mysterious human cargo (Jessica Barden) to the other side of the country, en route to a big-money tournament in San Francisco.
Underground-fight movies tap directly into a macho fantasy of self-reliance, but the recent economic downturn has given these narratives a desperate new relevance. However, this depiction of hardscrabble American life seems derived not so much from direct experience or empathetic observation, as from a handful of half-listened-to Bruce Springsteen albums. From the kitschy motel decor to the actors’ straggly beards, it all just feels like a bit of a put-on. Amid all this apparent deprivation, the dandified Majors looks as if he came direct from a GQ fashion shoot.
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