Review: Not much worth exploring in tepid 'Edge of the World'
Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
A misguided journey/biopic about the ambitious 1880s explorer Sir James Brooke - the first Englismen to be fully anointed the first white rajah of Sarawak in Borneo, Michael Haussman’s “Edge of the World” briefly touches the surface of who this man was and what his legacy ended up being. Glossing over important historical context, like the oppressive, head-hunting environment of the 19th-century Boreno empire and scurrying from, what felt like, checkpoint to checkpoint, “Edge of the World” tries to cram a textbook amount of history into a tiny package and the results, though epic in scope when it chooses to be, are muddled at best.
This “Apocalypse Now” inspired snooze fest sees Jonathan Rhys Meyers (where has he been!) playing Sir James Brooke, who belabors audiences with monotonous voice overs about his discoveries and explorations, as he embarks on a lifelong crusade to end piracy and salvery among indiginous populations. Inspiring acclaimed works such as “Lord Jim” and “The Man Who Would Be King,” Brooke - whose closeted homosexuality is flirted with but Haussman never digs deeper - left behind his military accloades and topsy-turvy lifestyle in Victorian England to pose as liaison for the Royal Geographical Society, eventually spending years calming tensions between several tribal nations and laying the groundwork for his own agenda at rejecting colonialism.
If that sounds like a kick-ass origin story, “Edge of the World” doesn’t know how to present it, squandering the narrative (and Meyers) potential. The cornball huffs of dialogue and Dominc Monaghan getting tossed a bone playing Brooke’s confident Arthur - who warns about an impending attack but alas nobody listens - keep the movie stuck on cruise control. “Edge of the World” closes with facts and subtext about what unfolded on screen and tells audiences, in great length and detail, what happened following the movie. Ironically, it sounded like a much better film, one that had a clear and concise focus on what Brooke tried to accomplish while delivering on the goods promised from its premise. As far as biopics go, Brooke deserved better.
EDGE OF THE WORLD is now available on VOD and Digital.