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  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

Edge of the World (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Dominic Monaghan, Josie Ho, Atiqah Hasiholan, Ralph Ineson, Otto Farani, Samo Rafael, Bront Palarae, Shaheizy Sam, Hannah New, Yusyf Mahardika, Peter John, Kahar Bin Jini and Wan Hanafi Su.

Screenplay by Rob Allyn.

Directed by Michael Haussman.

Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. 104 minutes. Not Rated.

Edge of the World is an old-fashioned piece of entertainment – full of jungle exploration, derring-do, primitive natives, warfare, nature, danger, treachery, murder, native women bathing in rivers, fighting, decapitation, looting, pirates, crocodiles, shrunken heads and treasure. And it is based on a true story.

So why does it feel so sepia-toned, so much a story out of time? Or at least of another time?

It is a period piece which tells the type of tale which was once the thing of adventure novels, but now is rarely explored. In fact, the real-life lead character is James Brooke – a former soldier turned smalltime British mercenary who became royalty as the Rajah of Sarawak from 1842 until his death 26 years later. Brooke is thought to be the inspiration for both Joseph Conrad’s classic novel Lord Jim and Rudyard Kipling’s acclaimed novella “The Man Who Would Be King.” (The real Brooke is also referred to by name briefly in Kipling’s fictional story.)

Brooke apparently had a fascinating, adventurous life. So, shouldn’t a film about his life be more gripping than Edge of the World turns out to be?

Perhaps. In fact, probably. But I’m not going to lie, despite the beautiful natural setting and the ample amount of action on the screen, the nearly-hour and 45-minute run time of Edge of the World felt like it was crawling by. It is the type of movie that is easier to respect than it is to actually enjoy.

Or, like I said earlier, maybe it’s just a movie out of time. Really, in the world of slam-bang action movies and superheroes, can a somewhat thoughtful, epic look at British colonization and politics really still find a place?

Honestly, you’re probably better off just tracking down the 1975 Sean Connery and Michael Caine film version of The Man Who Would Be King, which tells its similar story much more bracingly. And with much better acting – which is not meant as a shot at this movie’s cast. Jonathan Rhys Meyers does a fine job as Brooke, but how do you beat Connery, Caine and co-star Christopher Plummer at the height of their powers?

However, The Edge of the World has moments where it lives up to its inspiration. Just not enough of them to heartily recommend.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: June 4, 2021.


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