Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell star as two brothers that are trying to change their circumstances by traveling across the country for a no holds barred bare-knuckle boxing tournament. Lion (O’Connell) has been training with his well-intentioned but hazardous brother Stanley (Hunnam). Stanley is as supportive a brother as he can be within his world of getting money and making bets that turn out to go the wrong way and ultimately leads to him using Lion to cover a lot of his mistakes. After one of those mistakes comes back to haunt Stanley, both he and Lion will realize this big boxing match may end up being a fight for their lives.
I had an okay experience with watching ‘Jungleland’ but do think there are some things that could’ve been tightened up in regards to the script and the story arch. This is a family drama film first, and then a sports film. There isn’t a lot of heavy action fighting scenes that tip it over to being a more sports,fighting-centric film. What you mostly get are dialogue-driven moments between both O’Connell and Hunnam, who both are great actors in this and get a lot of chances to show off their acting chops.
There are some heavy hitters when it comes to the supporting cast. From ‘Lovecraft County’ Jonathan Majors plays a minor role but it is great to see him in this. Lion and Stanley are tasked during their journey across the country to take a passenger with them, Sky (played by Jessica Barden). She has some important scenes with her and Lion that keep you engaged throughout the film. There is a mystery as to her story and why they are transferring her across the country that will surprise you in the end. Where I think the film starts to drift into more absurdness than real life is with this character in its 3rd act. The sound design is also really well done, when you experience the fights in the film you feel the weight of every punch, and it is immersive in that way.
The writing in the film is kind of wooden and doesn’t often seem to work with the characters. I do think there is some impressive acting but it’s more on the backs of the cast rather than the words themselves being very impactful. The story starts fairly strong but during the road trip through the 2nd act, it starts to idle with too many dialogue driven scenes rather than more scenes exploring Lion and Stanley’s relationship to each other when it comes to bare-knuckle boxing.
Overall, ‘Jungleland’ is a good, not great film, but it worth checking out if you have free time this week, with strong performances and impressive cinematography and sound design, check it out this Nov 10th when it comes out on digital or see in theaters today!