Amazon Queen combines adventure, mystery, love, crime, and nostalgia to create a thriller set on the enigmatic and mysterious Amazon River. From the start, director Marlin Darrah’s film jumps into the action with a botched robbery. Of course, the money needs to be recovered, and it’s in the jungle. At the same time, The Tucano, a riverboat with an illustrious past gifted from mother to daughter Jackie (Carly Diamond Stone), faces a bleak future due to financial and mechanical issues.
Based in Manaus, Brazil, The Tucano takes travelers down the Amazon with “trips” to jungle villages and night cruises to see wildlife in action. Jackie has spent most of her life along the river and passionately knows her business, the Amazon, and the jungle. However, once untethered from its dock, The Tucano leaves the world behind, ferrying its five passengers — robbers Machado (Massi Furlan) and Silva (Clayton Meek), journalist Sam (Alfonso DiLuca), and mother and daughter, Maggie (Vicky Dawson) and Leilah (Cristina Encarnacion) — into the unknown, far from it all, including the pandemic.
Amazon Queen echoes an Agatha Christie novel from the beauty of the ship’s wooden interior, dancing and music with wine on the deck at sunset, a murder, and a plot where no one can leave, or so we think. However, Jackie and her captain, Flynn (Nick Dreselly Thomas), who exist in a relationship of unrequited love as business partners, keep the boat moving. As a result, what appears to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the rainforest becomes a life-and-death situation.
“…the money needs to be recovered, and it’s in the jungle.”
While disembarking to an indigenous village, Jackie’s long-lost father, Francisco (Carson Grant), appears, who is dying from cancer. His drama is one of making amends from the past, but Jackie rejects him. However, his knowledge of the Tucano is needed, so he joins the trip. Onboard, the Machado and Silva become impatient about their mission to recover the stolen money somewhere along the Amazon, and chaos ensues.
Amazon Queen is sometimes a bit predictable, but the scenery is beautiful, especially the shots of animals, birds, and the jungle, setting the film’s tone. It was filmed during the pandemic, which is almost forgotten once the trip is underway — how we all wish that could be real. Plus, as mentioned, the set and art design of The Tucano works well, as it is a lovely ship. That beauty hiding the ugly motivations of most (all?) of these characters is a subtle but effective touch.
However, an underlying theme of saving the rainforest and stopping the deforestation of the land for cattle is not fully understood. As a result, it doesn’t hold enough interest, unlike the actions of Machado and Silva and the efforts of Francisco. But still, thanks to some decent acting, the gorgeous cinematography, and a crackling main plot, Amazon Queen is more riveting and engrossing than not.
"…the jungle always wins"