Recently, Radcliffe has been taking much more risks with his acting choices. Jungle is an interesting follow-up to his intentionally lifeless performance in last years oddball, farting corpse film Swiss Army Man. This time, he's stuck again in the Amazon forrest, and does plenty of moving to survive. His character is a man looking for adventure, seeking a change from the oppressive arguments with his father back in Israel. He has left college to go to Bolivia, with a backpack, and little knowledge of how to survive on his own. Either way, Yossi is jumping in feet first, ready to experience everything that his travels have to offer. He meets Marcus (Joel Jackson) and photographer Kevin (Alex Russell), and convinces them to go along with mystery guide Karl (Thomas Kretschmann) into the unknown to find an Indian village.
The direction from Australian horror director McLean is right up his alley of narrative. Much like his previous work, Wolf Creek, he has become an expert in stories where groups of people become isolated in their most horrific situation. This time, however, it does not take much for writer Justin Monjo's script to shock us, because it all really happened. As Yossi and his traveling friends trek through the terrain, we witness them eat things such as monkeys, snakes, and bird eggs. And that's not even the worst parts. Marcus begins to have an issue with his feet, making it impossible for him to walk, as his skin tears off when he removes his socks. This emergency, mixed with a growing fear about who Karl actually is as a guide, causes the group to separate. It is this decision where Yossi will find himself alone fighting for his life.
When we think of movies of this nature our minds immediately think of Castaway, the gold standard of survival films. I won't say Radcliffe's performance is near the work of Tom Hanks, but the Harry Potter star delivers some of his best work to date. He keeps a consistent accent, making his role believable, along with his physical work that included him clinging to a rock in the middle of wild rapids, covering himself in mud, feeling the burn of red fire ants, and his losing of weight. It is commitment and work like this that makes Radcliffe more impressive with each performance.
It may sound like Jungle is just a one-note survival film, but there is much more at hand. Director Greg McLean has made an impressive film, with top of the line commitment from all four actors involved, including what is obviously difficult cinematography from Stefan Duscio. Jungle may be more for the fans of things such as shows like Naked and Afraid or Survivor, but Jungle has one of the stronger performances of the year from Radcliffe. Plus, if you ever get stranded in the Bolivian jungle, you just might learn a thing or two.
Written by: Leo Brady
STARRING: DANIEL RADCLIFFE; THOMAS KRETSCHMANN; ALEX RUSSELL; JOEL JACKSON
DIRECTED BY: GREG MCLEAN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
You will hear about Jungle as the movie where Harry Potter becomes Bear Grylls. Daniel Radcliffe plays a man who survived without food, water, and supplies in the Bolivian jungle, but it's also a film where Radcliffe breaks away from his wizard wand, showing his impressive physical skills as an actor. His performance as Yossi Ghinsberg is one of strength and stamina, doing the things it takes to portray a man who went through this ordeal, losing loads of weight, and putting his body through trauma to bring this wild tale to life. Director Greg McLean is a skilled composer of the horror genre and makes Jungle a scary experience of life and death.