Review by Dan Skip Allen
It's always interesting to see films about discovering new lands throughout history. History is full of these types of stories. The people and places they discover are of some historical record. It makes sense that people would make films about men and women and the different places they discover. In the case of Edge of the World, it focuses on the discovery and colonization of Borneo, an island in the South Pacific completely covered by jungle.
James Brooke (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a soldier for the British Empire under the reign of Queen Victoria. He's also an adventurer. He goes around exploring far-off lands in the hope of colonizing them and bringing what indigenous life resides to the place he discovers under the rule of Queen Victoria. At this point in history, there weren't a whole lot of places that had not been discovered and colonized by the British Empire.
Borneo had two warring factions that lived there already when Brooke landed on its shores. Brooke would go on to defy the British Empire and rule over this jungle. He would befriend the Rajah and fight against piracy, headhunting, and slavery. He even married one of the indigenous women. He struggled to make a home for himself but eventually became ruler over these third-world people in the 1840s. It wasn't an easy task but the natives eventually embraced him as their leader.
Brooke is a famous literary character in his own right. He is inspired by the stories of Lord Jim starring Peter O'Toole and The Man Who Would Be King starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Edge of the World, though, is a more gritty take on his story in the vein of Apocalypse Now. The military officer becomes the ruler of a native people in a jungle.
Edge of the World is a fine retelling of Brooke's story it's just not great. It drags a lot. It just feels like this story takes too long to get to its conclusion. Dominic Monaghan is fine as Crookshanks. The rest of the supporting cast is pretty forgettable. This is Rhys Meyers's film as Brooke. He just seems to be a one-note character. He has one scene towards the end of the film where gets to flex his acting muscles. Other than that, he wasn't that entertaining in the film.
The plot was pretty basic as well. It never really gripped me on the plight of Brooke, his fellow travelers, or his new role as ruler of these people. The film had a little bit of light when it focused on the relationship between Brooke and his new wife. Other than that the film was pretty bland. Stories like these need to be big and loud and adventurous. This film and story is none of that.
Edge of the World tried to make Jonathan Rhys Meyers a leading man and it fails in that regard. He's a one-note character that isn't that interesting. The relationship between him and his wife had potential, though. The film was just too long and too boring. There wasn't much adventure for a man who was an adventurer. This film failed on multiple levels and it's sad because it had the bones of something that could have been good.
Edge of the World is now available on VOD.