Robert Redford awakens to find water flooding into his yacht in the the one man sea survival drama "All Is Lost" now available on DVD at your Roanoke Valley Public Libraries. His unnamed character then discovers he has run into a lost container from a cargo ship. With a sizable hole in his hull and the radio and electrical system destroyed, he sets about patching his wounded vessel and trying to stay alive.
Writer-director J.C. Chandor returns to the formula he used in his 2011 financial crisis drama "Margin Call." As with that film, he establishes a situation with scant details then lets his characters play it out. Though we know nothing of his solo character here, the who, where and why do not matter. This is a tale of survival in the face of hopeless isolation.
Chandor does a fine job of establishing that hopeless isolation with vast shots of endless sea and the limited space of the yacht's dwindling safety. Yet "All Is Lost" lacks the tension and terror of the more gripping abandoned scuba diver thriller "Open Water" and the capsized drama "The Reef." Redford, a low-key actor to begin with, quietly goes about his tasks more out of duty than desperation. We watch the actions of his everyman plight with fascination but without captivation or emotional involvement. He curses only once and shows little excitement or energy even when trying to signal a passing ship.
Though well-crafted, you can take it or leave it. It's interesting enough but has no real sense of urgency. The title and the unnecessary opening narration also give you the impression you are watching an exercise in futility stretching out an inevitable conclusion.