In case it hasn’t been obvious in my past choices, I try to steer away from R-rated films in these reviews. Nothing against the movies themselves, but I personally don’t feel comfortable recommending most R-rated films, especially without seeing the whole thing first. But that was especially difficult this week. Slavery drama starring Michael Fassbender? Rated R. Wikileaks movie starring blonde Benedict Cumberpatch? Rated R. Remake of an 80s horror film by Steven King? Do you even have to ask? Anything else good coming out this week? Well, there is that movie from the Cannes Film Festival. It stars Robert Redford and it’s rated PG-13. At this point, beggars can’t be choosers.
All is Lost tells the story of a man lost at sea and his struggle for survival. Is it worth the cruise, or does it deserve to be shark chow? Let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
As I said before, Robert Redford stars in this movie. The man has quite the list of previous appearances, including All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Out of Africa. And yeah, he’s pretty much it. In the past, I’ve said one actor carries a movie because he’s surrounded by unknown actors. In this case, though, the film is literally a one-man show. Redford has no supporting cast whatsoever. It’s a good thing he’s such a good actor, or else this movie wouldn’t stand a chance.
J. C. Chandor is the director, and the man hasn’t had much experience as a director. His only other full-length film is Margin Call. Since I’ve never even heard of the film, I have no idea what he brings to a project. It must be something good, though, since Margin Call earned him an Academy Award nomination.
Our trailer opens with Sailor Bob out on his boat. “Alone at sea,” the trailer tells us, “a man has only himself.” That’s kind of the point of being alone at sea. If he had someone else, he wouldn’t be alone. But it turns out he also has his will to survive, which becomes important as water sloshes through the boat’s cabin, carrying a sneaker with it. Okay, who tried to flush the shoe down the toilet again?
But no, a floating shipping container has smashed into the boat, leaving a gaping hole in the side. “Stop blowing holes in my ship!” Captain Jack Sparrow shouts—oh, wait, wrong movie. Sailor Bob tries to fix the hole by gluing wicker over it, and when that doesn’t work, he climbs the mast to look for help. Either that or he’s planning to copy Captain Sparrow for real this time and ride the mast into Port Royal.
The gigantic storm that apparently blows in out of nowhere doesn’t help matters much. Sailor Bob goes into his cabin and buckles into some kind of safety harness, which he’s going to need since the boat flips upside down. The good news is once the sun sets, he can leave Davy Jones’s Locker and come back to the world of the living (is it just me or am I referencing the Pirates of the Caribbean movies a lot in this review?) We see him radioing for help, but the radio goes kaput before anyone can respond. Cue Adam West shouting, “Confound it! The batteries are dead!”
So Sailor Bob gets out his life raft/floating tent and casts off from the fast-sinking boat. Yeah, if I were you, Sailor Bob, I’d untie the thing from the boat before I went sailing off. He goes fishing, and suddenly he’s surrounded by sharks because, you know, it’s the ocean. Being lost at sea without circling sharks is like being lost in the desert without circling vultures; it just doesn’t happen. Sailor Bob tries to signal a passing ship with a flare and his voice that can’t possibly carry that far. Unfortunately, the ship is under attack by Somali pirates and thus is unable to assist him. Don’t worry, Sailor Bob. Take it from Tom Hanks; you wouldn’t want to be on that ship anyway.
Sailor Bob drinks some unknown liquid out of a tin cup, and we see that he desperately needs a bath. He charts his location on a map, suffers from what looks like a bout of constipation, and tries to shut out the elements with his tent. And the trailer ends with Sailor Bob taking a nap in the bottom of his life raft, wondering why the universe hates him.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Honestly, I feel like I’ve already watched the movie. We get a brief glimpse of all the major situations Robert Redford gets himself into. What more can the actual film give us? Well, some character development might be nice. The critics’ glowing reviews say this is the high point of Robert Redford’s acting career, but the trailer doesn’t show him doing anything any other actor couldn’t do. There has to be some subplot about who “Our Man” is and why he’s out there on the open sea, but I have no idea what it’s going to be. In short, the trailer has me curious, but not curious enough to spend two to three hours of my life watching a man by himself in a boat. Critics like it, and I’m sure there are some people out there who like it, but I’m not seeing anything that interests me personally.
Well, that’s it for this week’s review. What’s coming out next week? A film from the man who brought us Blade Runner, Alien, and Gladiator and a movie with a title that starts with Jackass Presents. Isn’t it about time for another Overanalysis?
All is Lost is owned by Lionsgate.