Every once in a while, a movie looks like it is going to be a gripping ride...on paper but when you see the end results it just lets you down. "All Is Lost" is a gripping story about a man trying to survive in the worst of conditions, and while it starts very strong it just pushes the concept way too far.
Deep into a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, an unnamed man (Robert Redford) wakes to find his 39-foot yacht taking on water after a collision with a shipping container left floating on the high seas. With his navigation equipment and radio disabled, the man sails unknowingly into the path of a violent storm. Despite his success in patching the breached hull, his mariner’s intuition and a strength that belies his age, the man barely survives the tempest. Using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him into a shipping lane in hopes of hailing a passing vessel. But with the sun unrelenting, sharks circling and his meager supplies dwindling, the ever-resourceful sailor soon finds himself staring his mortality in the face.
Ultimately, this has great idea written all over it but the execution felt a little lacking as the script and the ridiculous levels of bad luck kept mounting for our intrepid sailor and I got taken out of this character's plight. Writer/director J.C. Chandor's follow up to the bold and thrilling "Margin Call", this film shows some genuine visual talent as he absolutely shoots the hell out of this and genuinely captures the isolation of a man trapped at sea by effectively building tension throughout the film via the simplest of tasks that our character undertakes to survive. While the narrative and the script that barely has any dialogue in it what so ever starts off compelling and strong as we follow our subject struggle to make repairs and make the right decisions in the face of everything going terribly wrong, it lags as he keeps making wrong decisions, and keeps making wrong decisions over and over again. At a run time of approximately 106 minutes it just pushes the entire concept way too far, making you look at your watch almost wonder how bad this man's luck as he tackles nature can actually be? That being said what saves it from being an out and out joke of a film bordering on absurd horror tropes is the performance from Robert Redford.
I will refrain from making any old man and the sea jokes on this one, but it is quite possible that at 77 years old, Robert Redford may have been the only man capable of playing this role. By barely saying a world, his sun beaten face tells the story of a successful man who has conquered most if not everything that the world has placed before him who now has to deal with his very mortality as all hope is lost. Redford plays it with a great deal of nuance and subtlety, considering that he was handcuffed by a lack of actual dialogue but it serves as a wonderful reminder to all that the art of acting is so much more than just the words on the page.
Had "All Is Lost" clocked in a little tighter, it would have been a more effective tale of a man silently fighting for his survival but with the way parts of it dragged and bordered on absurd, I got off the boat a little sooner than the filmmakers wanted me to.
2 out of 5 stars.
"All Is Lost" is now playing, please check your local listings for show times.