Parents' Guide to

Edge of the World

By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Historical drama has colonial attitudes, racism, violence.

Movie NR 2021 104 minutes
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age 16+

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Based on the life of real-life explorer Sir James Brooke, this adventure drama addresses the oppressive environment of 19th-century Borneo and the colonialist British Empire that ruled beyond it. Rhys Meyers is perfectly cast as Brooke, a world-weary traveler who fears his best years are behind him. Like many biopic movies, Edge of the World feels duty-bound to cram lots of real-life events into two hours in order to do its subject justice. Unfortunately, this leads to a labored voice-over that adds little more than exposition, along with a slightly hurried opening and a plot that becomes muddled in places. Writer Rob Allyn struggles to balance competing storylines about the threat of pirate battles and Brooke's strained personal and professional relationships.

Director Michael Haussman recreates life in this place and time well, doing his best to work around budget constraints that limit the size of the cast and the movie's running time. But there's no escaping the issue of the "White savior" narrative. While Brooke is both portrayed, and received, positively, the film fails to look at his role as ruler objectively. It's a story that seems like it would have been better suited to a miniseries format, allowing more time to explore how the indigenous people felt about Brooke, for example. But -- like Brooke's voyage -- there just about remains enough here to capture the eye and the imagination.

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