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‘Edge of the World’ review: Just another “White savior” tale

It’s surprising how little lives factor in.

Edge of the World never shies from the fact it is a “White savior” story. Based on true events, the story follows Sir James Brooke (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) and his part in putting down a rebellion in Borneo. He also fought to keep the seas safe and had skirmishes with the government. Along with this latest adaptation, his adventures have been the subject of books and television. 

Not only was he given what was essentially his own private kingdom, he aggressively fought pirates and clashed with the British Empire. In other words, Brooke had a lot going on in his life. Edge of the World tries to get as much of this in. This leads to a rushed opening and a plot that can become overwrought at times. This includes narration to move the plot forward. 

Edge of the World is about Brooke’s life, but it is hard to not notice how little the lives of the indigenous people factor into the film. It is a whole new angle of story that could have added depth. This becomes more noticeable since Brooke is cast in such a positive light. It is rare that the hero of the story is so lacking in flaws. He fights pirates, stands up to the biggest empire in the world, and frees an entire island. The story is better suited to an adventure movie than a biopic.

This does not stop director Michael Haussman’s movie from constantly looking great. Edge of the World has a lush look that transports its audience to the exotic locales. The beauty contrasts with the film’s brutality. Edge of the World will also be interesting to those who enjoy history. It is a nice escape from superhero movies and fast paced action films. Things can get over the top at times, but the plot is grounded in reality. 

Ultimately, the film suffers from a pacing issue. The story tries to cover so much that some things tend to get lost or completely ignored. This is par for the course, but it stands out more hear since the story is so pedestrian. There is some enjoyment to be had with Edge of the World, but it can be a slog at times.

Edge of the World will be available on digital and on demand June 4

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