*NOTE: This review is going to be a CAPSULE review, which means it’ll be a tight, quick critique of the film as opposed to the more in-depth reviews I usually do.
Joël Karekezi’s film The Mercy of the Jungle tells the story of Sergeant Xavier (Marc Zinga) and Private Faustin (Stéphane Bak), two men who get separated from their troop and must travel long distances to join them. However, there is another threatening army on their tail and in order to avoid them, they must travel through the treacherous jungle, which may end up being more deadly than the army.
We are immediately thrown into this war-torn Africa, as the first shot of the movie is a gun-totting Xavier chasing down a teenager as they both run out of breath, showing the desperation of these men and the kill or be killed mantra they must live by. But Mercy of the Jungle actually plays out more like a coming of age road movie. Xavier is an intense, highly decorated soldier, where Faustin, a farmer, doesn’t belong in the military. Yet, the two are paired together in dyer circumstances and they quickly realize they’ll both need to change in order to survive. Faustin might not be a soldier, but he must learn to become one. He has think, walk, and talk like a soldier. Xavier must teach Faustin how to be a soldier so that he has a partner who will watch his back. It’s a great character piece, as we watch these two men grow together.
Led by a pair of spectacular performances, The Mercy of the Jungle is an interesting character study about what you need to do to survive. Though the pacing is a little slow in the middle, this is a fascinating, moving, at times thrilling look at war-torn Africa.
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