There’s much to like, and not like, in the thrilling, indie action-adventure, Amazon Queen. Director Marlin Darrah’s feature film brought back fond memories of the Love Boat as unlikely passengers board a small boat on the Amazon to find fortune, romance, and deal with family issues. But, unlike that classic show, guns are involved, and some characters don’t make it to the final destination.
The Amazon Queen is a small excursion cruise for hire, taking tourists to the most beautiful parts of the rainforest. The ship’s captain is Jacky (Carly Diamond Stone), and her first mate is her ex-husband Flynn (Nick Dresly Thomas). The couple separated long ago but remain committed to the Queen both emotionally and financially. Can they put aside their pride and find love again?
Now boarding is Maggie (Vicky Dawson) and her adult daughter, Leilah (Christina Encarnacion), attempting to reconnect after a messy divorce. Maggie also has money problems and might find financial security in one of the male passengers. Also, aboard is a mysterious gentleman, Francisco (Carson Grant), who seems to know a lot about the Amazon Queen, as he was the former owner and Jacky’s father, who abandoned her at a young age.
Then there’s the dangerous criminal Machado (Massi Furlan) and his sidekick Silva (Clayton Meek). Earlier, millions of dollars in a briefcase was stolen from Machado, and the plane with the cash crashed somewhere in the Amazon. So the two pose as passengers to take over the ship and hunt down the money.
“…pose as passengers to take over the ship and hunt down the money.”
Let me start with the movie’s weakness before getting into the good. The acting leaves a lot to be desired. The fun of Amazon Queen is the fact that it’s an indie action flick. Great pains are made to stretch every single dollar invested. Having a low budget means filmmakers have to be creative about making a small film look big. There are a few things in making a movie that a director has control over and the most prominent is the acting. The problem was the lack of rehearsal. Throughout, I got the sense everyone was trying to push out the dialogue and didn’t have the time to infuse their characters into their lines.
Now on to the positive. Going in, it’s essential to know that the production is action-adventure light. It’s meant to be fun versus dark, brooding, and violent. The first half deals with the relationship problems between Jacky and Flynn, Maggie and Leilah, and Jacky again, this time, with Francisco. There are plenty of secrets to reveal, biting personal confrontations, and a moment of vulnerability and vomiting after an ayahuasca ceremony.
Yes, the drama is soap opera-esque in tone, and the story kicks into high gear when Machado and Silva commandeer the Queen, take everyone hostage, and start terrorizing our heroes. But it’s all in a light/fun manner. I appreciate that though the action/thrills are PG-13 in nature, Darrah does at times push the action beyond the rating.
The actual setting of Amazon Queen is also quite beautiful. If you want to get a current glimpse of life along the Amazon and the Rio Nego, it’s all on display and beautifully captured. Thankfully, most of the action is shot in the daylight (for obvious reasons)—there’s a romantic quality to the Amazon Queen herself and the shooting location. Honestly, I want to make a film on a boat now.
If you approach Amazon Queen as an indie action movie set in a beautiful location, then it’s easy to overlook its flaws and find the fun in the story.
"…life along the Amazon and the Rio Nego, it's all on display and beautifully captured."