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Film Review: ARTHUR THE KING (2024): Mark Wahlberg Befriends a Dog in an Action-Filled Race Movie with Heart

Arthur Mark Wahlberg Arthur The King

Arthur the King Review

Arthur the King (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Simon Cellan Jones, written by Michael Brandt and Mikael Lindnord and starring Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, Juliet Rylance, Michael Landes, Paul Guilfoyle, Viktor Akerblom, Ali Suliman, Rob Collins, Cece Valentina, Zamantha Diaz, Elizabeth Chahin, Oscar Best, Alani Ilongwe, Sharon Gallardo, Luis del Valle and Mauricio Adrian.

Simon Cellan Jones’s new picture, Arthur the King, is the type of adventure film that should restore people’s faith in the power of perseverance. At the same time, the movie is a Mark Wahlberg vehicle about an adventurer who encounters a dog that will change his life and the life of his buddies forever. On paper, that may sound a bit like a formulaic premise for a film but Arthur the King isn’t formulaic at all. Not really. Instead, it’s a rousing picture where audiences will care about the characters, really like the dog and feel invested in the movie’s big race which features some daring escapes and intriguing situations.

Wahlberg stars in the picture as Mikael Lindnord, a middle-aged man who gets funding to go on a big race with some fellow adventurers. Lindnord had dreamt to accomplish the goal of making it through the very competitive race. In fact, Lindnord put up some of his own funds in order to be able to participate in it. His wife is Helena (Juliet Rylance) and although Rylance is not given much to do except have her character follow Mikael’s adventures on a computer with their daughter, Rylance is heartfelt in her performance and makes for a strong casting choice as the wife.

One of the several people accompanying Mikael on his journey through the jungle is played by Nathalie Emmanuel. This character is one of the most compelling ones in the picture. Emmanuel’s character’s dad is dying of cancer and the race has a genuine purpose for her, just as it does for almost everyone else participating in it. However, Emmanuel fully fleshes out her character and emerges with her most nuanced screen performance to date. We understand why the character is enduring all the intense challenges and Emmanuel’s work is all the stronger as a result.

A great scene has the adventures climbing a mountain with their bikes strapped on their backs while another sequence showcases our heroes on a line through the sky to get from point A to point B. This film adequately keeps the viewer on the edge with that latter sequence. Mikael must come to the aid of Emmanuel’s character and watching them get out of a tight situation is nothing short of suspense-provoking.

The other main character is played by Simu Liu who always manages to be a compelling screen presence and his role here is no exception. When this character becomes dehydrated, the crew must rest and forfeit time in order to continue embarking on their ambitious adventure.

This crew is joined by a stray dog who ends up being called Arthur. This dog escapes from a bunch of vicious dogs and knows some shortcuts around the jungle of the Dominican Republic where the film is set. Arthur is fed a meatball by Mikael and they immediately become best buds. Arthur is prohibited from continuing on with Mikael and company but the dog finds his own way to join the crew and be by their side throughout some very daring scenes of peril. Fierce boating scenes lead to a part where Arthur almost drowns until Mikael jumps in and saves his life.

Though Arthur the King could have been predictable, there’s surprisingly a lot to admire about it regardless of its somewhat formulaic basic structure. Wahlberg is actually excellent in his role, adding much depth to the man who would endure a test of survival skills for the thrill of it and for the adventure of a lifetime. Wahlberg hasn’t been this good in some time. Although he’s done good roles, the character Wahlberg plays here has a lot at stake and becomes very compelling to watch on screen throughout the duration of the movie. It’s one of the actor’s strongest recent lead performances.

Nathalie Emmanuel surprises with a turn full of complexity. She shines in a role which could have been a smaller one in a lesser picture. Simu Liu also has plenty of moments to shine as a man who is pushed hard by the adventure at hand in the movie. Liu has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most surprisingly intriguing character actors.

The ending of Arthur the King doesn’t offer a lot in terms of surprises although it’s not entirely predictable either. But, it does offer a big dose of heart and a lot of adventurous situations that are easy to maintain viewer interest. Arthur is well played by Ukai, the dog. As the well-being of the animal becomes the primary concern of Mikael, the movie creates a relationship between them which is well-drawn, believable and will be relatable to people who truly care about helping animals.

This film shows the real-life characters at the end of the picture which is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and the canine one as well. Arthur the King is paced well and doesn’t meander. It moves forward with tremendous attention to detail and Wahlberg is, again, a standout for his performance which doesn’t get mushy but, instead, remains moving and true to the character which Wahlberg portrays. Arthur the King is an adventure film that will keep viewers captivated throughout and is recommended viewing.

Rating: 7.5/10

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