Fast-paced fun in cinema's Jungle Cruise

REVIEW: Jungle Cruise (12A), (127 mins), Cineworld Cinemas

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 11:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 11:22 pm
Jungle Cruise - 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc
Jungle Cruise - 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc

With the rain hammering down outside in this weirdest of summers, Jungle Cruise might well be your safest holiday bet this year – just over two hours of fast-paced Amazonian action carried along by raft of top performances.

Emily Blunt is superb as feisty scientist Lily Houghton who is determined to do wonders for World War One medicine by solving a 400-year-old riddle deep in the jungle.

Alongside her, much to her annoyance at first but you can guess what happens, is Dwayne Johnson as the phoney boat captain she hires for the trek – a man who, it increasingly seems, is actually part of the mystery she’s trying to penetrate.

Standing in their way is, well, pretty much everything from stereotypically evil German villains to undead conquistadores, plus all the elements and a fair old number of weird and hostile beasties, plus – initially – a whole load of stuffed-shirt snobby scientists back home.

The joy of the film is that Lily and Johnson’s Frank are quite funny enough already. The icing on the cake is that Lily’s upper-class twit brother joins them on the journey, and no one does upper-class twit better than Jack Whitehall.

Lily turns up at Frank’s rickety old boat with just a small overnight bag; MacGregor turns up with a whole train of luggage – most of which Frank pitches into the river. You get the tone…

But over the course of the next couple of hours, the disparate threesome bond and there are plenty of thrills along the way. There’s plenty of Indiana Jones in here; plenty of Pirates of the Caribbean too. But somehow Jungle Cruise still manages to be its own thing.

Maybe, just maybe, the whole thing is 15 to 20 minutes too long. There’s a slight feeling of ‘What next?’ as yet another obstacle surges up before them, but there’s no doubting the film’s good heart and no doubting the chemistry between its leads, nor the sheer visual spectacle it throws up time and time again before the whole thing is rounded off very nicely.

And yep, the conclusion leaves it poised for a sequel, the further adventures… which wouldn’t be a bad thing.