Runtime: 100 Mins
What To Expect: A man at work on a boat, survival; no dialogue. ‘Cast Away’ at sea.
The movie Gravity came out in 2013. People raved about how it was a slick and gripping survival thriller. I found it mediocre, a bit dull and repetitive with awkward camera angles (crucial to get right in a space setting). Instead another similar movie that I’d kept an eye on was All Is Lost (2013). A movie about a person in a baron environment being stricken by an unfortunate series of events, then using training, skill and wit to endure and possibly survive. All Is Lost is what Gravity tried to be – tense, interesting and fun to simply watch. With no sentimental crap from George Clooney and his stupid jiggling head. It’s just Robert Redford against the elements.
As it happens, Redford is 1,700 miles from land in the South China Sea. Asleep and alone in his yacht, his vessel strikes a floating container (one of those truck-sized ones) that has fallen from a cargo ship. The impact awakens him to find his boat is taking on water fast. On top of that, he has to deal with squalls and storms. Throw in a busted radio for good measure. Man versus wild can be highly engaging stuff if done correctly. Survival thrillers don’t need sappy garbage weighing them down. So to speak, All Is Lost has thrown the garbage overboard and is extremely efficient. There are no romantic sub plots and no slush about the meaning of life. In fact, there aren’t even any other actors. The only cast is Redford.
A fly on the wall view of a skilled seaman using his head is manly stuff. It’s sort of like Cast Away (2000), harsh cuts to the next idea being visibly put into action, rather than being talked about — only with less garbage about a football with a face on it. And that’s pretty much how it is throughout. The budget hinders it at times though. You don’t always get a feeling of isolation as the director is seemingly keen to avoid using a wide lens and show the scope of Redford’s isolation. At times also, it’s hard for the layman to understand exactly why Redford is tying that rope in that manner. Maybe surfer dudes will say ‘ahhh…’ (or maybe not), but sometimes consequences aren’t readily apparent.