Jungleland review – a neon-lit squint at the American dream

<span>Photograph: Dana Starbard/AP</span>
Photograph: Dana Starbard/AP

Fed up of ducking bailiffs and squatting in abandoned houses, brothers Stan (Charlie Hunnam) and Lion (Jack O’Connell) leave western Massachusetts and head for Jungleland, a competitive bare-knuckle boxing tournament in California with a cash prize of $400,000. In order to secure Lion’s name on the ticket, the opportunistic Stan strikes a dodgy deal with a gangster named Pepper (The Last Black Man in San Francisco’s Jonathan Majors, memorable in a flashy white suit), agreeing to “move a package”. The package turns out to be Sky (Jessica Barden), a flinty young woman with a grim secret.

Neon-lit diners, lonely service stations and empty parking lots are straight out of an Edward Hopper painting in this handsome, gloomy drama. The title comes from the Bruce Springsteen song, along with its central theme of a promised land just out of reach. Brits Hunnam, O’Connell and Barden are strangely well cast as its all-American grifters. (Hunnam in particular gives a finely tuned performance as a washed-up smooth talker who still knows how to flirt.)

• On VOD platforms from 30 November