Daniel Radcliffe in ‘Jungle’ (2017): A Feral True Story

After the Harry Potter films launched his acting career, Daniel Radcliffe would not remain seen as the young iconic sorcerer for long. Proving his versatility as an actor, Radcliffe went on to star as a young man who sprouts horns overnight in Horns (2013), a farting corpse in Swiss Army Man (2016) and an FBI agent who goes undercover as a white supremacist in Imperium (2016). Pushing his limits even further, Radcliffe is back in the wilderness. This time, rather than a cadaver with flatulence, the ever-growing actor portrays an Israeli backpacker searching for adventure in his latest feature, Jungle, directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, The Belko Experiment).

Based on the memoir by Yossi Ghinsberg, Jungle is an incredible true story with a premise similar to Sean Penn’s 2007 critically acclaimed feature Into the Wild starring Emile Hirsch (Milk, Lone Survivor). Rejecting society’s ordinary carbon copy way of life, Yossi sets out on a road less traveled, searching for something more. While in La Paz, Bolivia, Yossi (Daniel Radcliffe) and two fellow backpackers, Marcus (Joel Jackson) and Kevin (Alex Russell: Chronicle, Unbroken), are offered a unique opportunity when they meet a mysterious guide named Karl (Thomas Kretschmann: King Kong).

Claiming to be a geologist, Karl’s stories of wilderness untouched by modern society, gold and indigenous tribes deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle captivates Yossi, who becomes convinced this is the once in a lifetime opportunity that he has been waiting for. Marcus, a Swiss teacher on sabbatical, and Kevin, an amateur photographer, are initially skeptical for good reason since Karl’s motives remain a bit unclear. However, driven by his sense of adventure, Yossi manages to convince his fellow travelers, appealing to Marcus’s curiosity as an educator and Kevin’s desire to have his photographs published in National Geographic.

It isn’t long after the group embarks on their journey that dangers of the jungle begin to reveal themselves. Appearing to be knowledgeable enough of the terrain, the trio trusts their guide will get them safely to their destination. However, when misfortune befalls the group, their trust and faith in Karl is shaken. Determined to push onward with one companion unable to continue, the group decides to split up. This leads to a catastrophic event that leaves Yossi lost and alone. In his fight for survival, the Israeli backpacker faces deadly horrors that wait beneath the beautifully vegetated surface of the Amazon.

In his portrayal of an energetic backpacker with an enthusiasm for adventure who deteriorates to an emaciated wilderness victim on the verge of death, Radcliffe carries the film from beginning to end, never dropping his impressive Israeli accent. While the captivating cinematography is incredible in capturing the beauty of the jungle that gradually turns gritty to highlight hidden dangers, the story seemed to drag in the beginning. With a loose focus, Jungle struggles to find ground before finally taking off, leading to an outstanding climactic plot. To maintain a steady flow, it may have been beneficial for the film to begin further into the story while incorporating flashbacks to ensure all necessary details were included.

Despite the pacing of the introduction, Jungle offers an enticing story of adventure and suspense with a touch of mystery and horror. Earning a 7.2 score on IMDb and a 71% thus far on Rotten Tomatoes, this feature is one film connoisseurs with diverse taste and a penchant for adventurous survivor films are sure to enjoy. Jungle hits theaters October 20, 2017.

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