A team of diamond hunters go missing in the jungles of the Congo, prompting another team to fly in after them, searching for their missing compatriots. Inevitably, however, things go badly wrong.
Jurassic Park and Disclosure may have joined the megabucks hall of fame, but the latest screen adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel shows that plundering the science-as-thriller guru's back catalogue is not always a surefire way to success. While Jurassic Park made the idea of dinosaurs plausible, Congo takes an equally far-fetched idea but only serves to make the concept all the more ludicrous with the end result.
The action gets under way with an explorer (Bruce Campbell) hunting for diamonds in the jungle, only to have his organs rearranged by a creature bearing a strong resemblance to an Old English sheepdog with problem skin. Almost immediately, his scientist fiancee (Linney) heads off to look for him, joined by a mad Romanian (Curry, making his contribution to great accent travesties of our time) convinced of the existence of the gems, and a weedy primatologist (Walsh) returning his pet gorilla Amy to the jungle having taught the creature to talk.
It transpires that this particular primate's vocals aren't just restricted to parrot-fashion mimicking. Amy (in truth, an impressive Stan Winston animatronic creation) can spout lucid sentences with the help of a verbal translator, and as such provides some of the movie's best acting, as the trio, joined by a wisecracking Ernie Hudson, try to establish just what it is that's been scattering bits of explorer everywhere.
What begins as mildly intriguing stuff with some genuinely unsettling moments, quickly melts into a plot so confusing that it almost begins to look as though the editor was taking some mind-altering substance. Scientific mumbo-jumbo and dialogue of the "But doc, I don't understand" variety is wheeled out to a worrying extent. Congo stops quite far short of delivering any truly mind-blowing thrills, and when it finally spills the beans on just what is hiding in the jungle, it's more of a predictable anti-climax than a shocking revelation. The weakest Crichton adaptation to date, this is a non-starter in the summer film race that loses momentum long before the Dr. Doolittle jokes run dry.
The weakest Crichton adaptation to date, this was a non-starter in the summer film race, and loses momentum long before the Dr. Doolittle jokes run dry.