Journey to El Dorado later called John Payne: Journey to El Dorado is a 2015 American action-adventure film written by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and directed by George Lucas starring Dylan O'Brien, Emma Stone, Robert DeNiro, Brad Dourif, Aaron Yoo and Rodrigo Santoro. The films charts the journey of protagonist John Payne (O'Brien), supposed descendant of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, as he seeks the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of journalist Emily Williams (Stone) and friend and mentor Phil "Phil" Lovecraft (DeNiro).
Originally announced at 2014, the title was developed for about two years before being released at the end of 2015. The film was critically-acclaimed by critics, many of whom cited its technical achievements and its high production values. The film grossed more than $800, 0000 just on it's opened weekend. On October 13, 2017, a sequel to the film was released, titled John Payne: Darkest Times. A second sequel was released in November 2019 entitled John Payne: The Last Son.
The film opens with Jonathan "John" Payne (Dylan O'Brien) recovering Sir Ranulph Fiennes Coffin, which was buried at sea. He is assisted by journalist Emily Williams (Emma Stone), there to record the events for a documentary. The coffin is empty, except for a diary written by Fiennes, whom John believes to be his ancestor. Proving that Drake had faked his death, the diary points to the location of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold. John and Emily are then ambushed by a band of pirates and their boat is destroyed. They are rescued by Phillip "Phil" Lovecraft (Robert DeNiro), Nate's best friend and one-time mentor, in his seaplane.
At shore, John details Phil on his findings, and they decide upon leaving Emily behind after fearing that her publishing the documentary would attract rivals. They travel to a region in the Amazon Rainforest, where they find ruins of an ancient South American civilization, and clues that suggest El Dorado is a large gold statue, that was removed long ago. Angered, Phil reveals to John that he is in debt, and was particularly relying on this job. Searching further, John and Phil discover a long-abandoned German U-Boat stuck in the Amazon River. John gives Phil the diary to hold on to while he investigates. John discovers its dead crew, a missing page from Fiennes diary and a map that points to a southern tropic island, where the statue was likely taken.
Before they can leave, John and Phil are accosted by Charles Flemyng (Brad Dourif), a competitive treasure hunter who has hired the services of mercenaries led by José Silveira (Rodrigo Santoro), Charles lieutenant and an archaeologist with extensive knowledge of the region and the statue itself. It's revealed that Phil's debt is with Charles, and he had promised Charles to pay him off with the fortune from El Dorado. However, Charles chose to follow up on Phil's information and find the treasure himself. They take the map from John and prepare to kill him, but Phil tries to intervene and is shot instead. Suddenly, the U-Boat explodes, the result of a torpedo John accidentally triggered. He uses the distraction to flee, and runs into Emily, who had followed them from the dock. They manage to escape in Phil's plane to the island where the statue is believed to be.
Having been shot down near the island and separated, John travels to the wreckage of the plane, while combating the pirates that had ambushed him earlier. He retrieves a map and spots Emily's parachute hanging from a nearby fort. At the fort, John is captured by the pirates, revealed to be led by Billy Wu (Aaron Yoo), self-proclaimed prince of the pirates and one of John's rivals. Emily rescues John, and they escape the fort to a flooded city. The two find out through a log book in the customs house, that the statue was moved further inland. Emily records the supposedly dead Phil working with Flemyng and Silveira, causing her to believe he is a traitor. John is unconvinced and, heading north, they decide to follow him to the monastery. After confronting him, Phil explains that the diary John had given him blocked the bullet, and convinced Charles to let him help. In fact, Phil had been feeding them useless information to buy himself time.
John and Emily find a series of maze-like tunnels below the monastery. In these tunnels, John overhears an argument between Flemyng, Silveira and Wu. Flemyng hired Wu to capture John and keep the island the secure, with the reward of a share of the gold of El Dorado. After John's escape, Flemyng doubts Billy's abilities to do his job further and ignores his superstitious claim that something cursed on the island is killing his men; Flemyng dismisses Billy and his crew.
John and Emily find a passage leading to a large treasure vault, in which they find the body of Plato, assuming that he died on the island searching for the treasure. Before they move on, they encounter Billy running for his life, chased by mutated humans possessing incredible speed and strength. The creatures are the Spanish "Descendants", and Billy is killed when one drags him into a pit. John and Emily escape and find themselves in an abandoned German Bunker. John ventures out into the base to restore power to the bunker. Along the way, he discovers that the Germans had sought the statue during World War II but that, like the Spaniards before them, learned that the statue was cursed, which mutated them. Sir Fiennes, knowing of the statue's power, was actually trying to keep it on the island, by destroying the ships and flooding the city, before he too was killed by the mutants.
John attempts to return to Emily, but finds her captured by Flemyng and Silveira. He reunites with Phil outside of the monastery and tells him about the curse. Under the monastery, John and Phil are held at gunpoint and find that Flemyng has secured the statue. Silveira urges Flemyng to open it; inside is the Mummy of El Dorado. Flemyng inhales the dust from the rotting corpse and begins to mutate. Silveira shoots the mutating Flemyng, as he had planned all along to steal the statue and sell the mutagen as a biological weapon. The statue is lifted out by helicopter as the mercenaries are attacked by the Descendants.
John jumps onto the net the statue is suspended in, and is taken to a tanker ship nearby. They crash land after Emily kicks a mercenary out of the helicopter, whose M4 discharges killing the pilot. John fights his way to the deck, taking down numerous mercenaries. On the deck, Silveira and John fist fight until John knocks Silveira unconscious. As John pulls an injured Emily from the helicopter, Silveira regains consciousness and raises his gun, but John pushes the helicopter off the ship; the rope connecting the helicopter to the statue becoming tangled around his leg, plunging Silveira and the statue into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
Elena returns Ranulph Fiennes Ring that he had previously left at the corpse of Ranulph Fiennes, and she and John lean in to kiss when they are interrupted by Phil on a small speedboat, having escaped the island and taking down several pirates, taking several boxes of treasure from them. Emily reminds John that because she lost her camera, he still owes her a story. As the boat sails towards the horizon, John assures her he will not break his promise.
- Dylan O'Brien as John Payne
- Emma Stone as Emily Williams
- Robert DeNiro as Phillip "Phil" Lockhart
- Rodrigo Santoro as José Silveira
- Brad Dourif as Charles Flemyng
- Aaron Yoo as Billy Wu
The film, made on a $18 million budget, grossed $384 million worldwide throughout its theatrical releases. In North America it was by some distance the highest-grossing film of 2015 and remains one of the top twenty highest-grossing films ever made when adjusted for inflation. The film was subsequently nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 2016 and won four (Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, and Michael D. Ford). It also received a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing. It won numerous other awards, including a Grammy Award and Best Picture at the People's Choice Awards. Lucas was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
The film received universal acclaim from critics and audiences alike. In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby praised the film, calling it, "one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made." Richard Roeper in rewien wrote, "Two things, however, make Journey to El Dorado more than just a technological triumph: its sense of humor and the droll style of its characters [...] We find ourselves laughing in surprise, in relief, in incredulity at the movie's ability to pile one incident upon another in an inexhaustible series of inventions." He later added it to his list of "Great Movies". Rolling Stone said the film was "the ultimate Saturday action matinee–a film so funny and exciting it can be enjoyed any day of the week." Bruce Williamson of Playboy claimed: "There's more excitement in the first ten minutes of El Dorado than any movie I have seen all year. By the time the explosive misadventures end, any movie-goer worth his salt ought to be exhausted." Stephen Klain of Variety also praised the film. Yet, making an observation that would revisit the franchise with its next film, he felt that the film was surprisingly violent and bloody for a PG-rated film.
The film currently holds a 95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus reading: "Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time".