Cons: Beyond the island scenes, pretty much the rest of the film
The Bottom Line: I wrote a whole review without using the words Cast Away!
If there's one great American actor who we can safely place into a time capsule, bury in the ground and dig up twenty or thirty years later, it's Tom Hanks. Sure, there are well known actors who contain more talent, make better movies and in some cases do both, but none of those guys speak out to middle class America quite like Hanks. Tom Hanks is the regular working Joe or Bob or Charlie who brings other regular working Joes or Bobs or Charlies to life onscreen. He goes to work, takes his lunch hour, goes back home and wastes away in front of the TV set, just like everybody else. The only difference is the money which, unfortunately, is more on average than most of us will ever see in our entire lifetimes.
Hanks' ordinary working class character this time around is a dedicated FedEx delivery boy named Chuck Noland. Chuck is strictly a by-the-clock guy. He lives the clock, eats the clock, sleeps the clock, breathes the clock. To him, life stands still at the eight-hour mark. His live-in girlfriend, Kelly (Helen Hunt) gives him an old relic clock for Christmas. He once stole a crippled kid's bike to make his delivery on time. And when we first meet him, he is in Moscow berating FedEx's Russian employees about all this in such an angry, rapid-fire fashion that the translator can't keep up with him.
Little does he know that his upcoming island survival adventure will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Comes Christmas Eve one fine year, Chuck is asked to make a last-minute delivery to a place so remote that it involves crossing the Pacific Ocean by airplane. Chuck wants to spend Christmas at home with Kelly, but, ever the working man, he takes the delivery. Onto the plane he goes.
Here is where the other great artist of the movie, director Robert Zemekis, begins his working day. The plane flies through a storm and, in one of the most terrifying sequences ever filmed, crashes. So terrifying, yet so spectacular you can't take your eyes off the screen, we view everything from the cockpit, with the storm flashing in and out as we see the sea gradually moves closer and closer. Then the big thump and the flooding of the cabin, where Chuck is lucky enough to find an inflatable raft and escape, only so the storm can drag him off to a remote island in the middle of nowhere.
Expecting to be stuck for only a couple of days, the first thing Chuck does is make a giant HELP sign. But soon reality sets in and he realises that if he hopes to live long enough to get rescued, he has to find a way to survive and adapt. And survive and adapt he does. With the help of a couple of washed-up FedEx packages, Chuck finds a way to open coconuts and perform a needed dental operation that looks too painful to even think about. He finds water, makes a spear to assist him in catching fish, creates fire and makes friends with a volleyball that he deems "Wilson".
Fast forward four years without the slighest hint at what happened in between. Chuck is now a veteran survivor, but living that long cost him all but a scrap of his sanity. He built himself a raft, knows how to make rope and talks at Wilson as if Wilson were a regular person. He is also in a more hopeless state of mind, having long ago given up the hope that he would be rescued, and intends to use the raft to try to at least find a sign of civilization.
During the island sequences, Hanks and Zemekis paint a very vivid picture that exemplifies nature-beautiful, yet dangerous and unforgiving. The sweeping panoramic shots showcase a breathtaking blue ocean, yet when Chuck attempts his first exodus from the island, he is attacked by waves that would make a seasoned surfer nervous. As sort of a natural exclamation point, the island's outer rocks cut up his inflateable raft and then his leg. Upon his successful conquest of the waves during his second exodus in his man-made raft, he has to fight another storm, one which destroys the raft beyond recognition.
The movie moves along at a good, brisk pace up until his rescue. We could have been happily left off at that, but the filmmakers just had to go overboard and make the rest of the movie unnessisarily sappy, making a dramatic show of Chuck's reassimilation into society and his reintroduction into the life of Kelly, who has by now moved on, found another man, gotten married and had her new husband's child. Long believing Chuck to be dead, she faints upon hearing the news that he's alive and doesn't quite know what to do when she sees him again for the first time in four years.
So it's a bit of a letdown to have seen Survivor the movie move so fast and hold your interest for so long only to have a full thirty minutes drag the movie on to its conclusion. But it's like I always say: I guess we can't have everything.
It's safe to say that this isn't your typical Hollywood blockbuster. It's very original and so very quiet. If you're a fan of Tom Hanks and want to see his best performance since Saving Private Ryan, this is worth a rental. If you don't want to have your eardrums shattered by rocket blasts, loud heavy metal music and thick Austrian accents, this is worth a rental. If you just want to see something different, this is worth a rental.
I started watching this movie during dinner, a time when I usually don't watch the ending of many movies. I generally turn off the TV and dash back to my beloved computer. BUT Hanks grabbed me from the first scene of this powerful movie, holding me captive until the bittersweet ending. He's a fine actor and was superb in this role. Hanks plays the part of Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer on company business when the plane crashes and he ends up alone on a deserted island. … more
Pros: Tom Hanks really thin with long hair Cons: Stark, not much dialogue What a refreshing film this was. Mainly what I liked about it was that it was very stark in both content and acting. A moving story about a man who is caught up in his job and his work who spends many years alone on a deserted island. I have always liked Tom Hanks, the American everyman. He plays that role again in this film. He plays a man who is forced … more
Tom Hanks is Chuck Noland, a man in a hurry. His job for Federal Express has him traveling the world on a moment's notice, exhorting the company's employees to speed things up--"never turn your back on the clock." When he's suddenly called away for business on Christmas night, his tolerant longtime girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) drives him to the airport. They have their Christmas in the car--and Chuck plunks an engagement ring into her lap right before he gets on the plane, telling her, "I'll be right back." But an unexpected storm cuts the plane's crew off from radio contact and blows them off course. Chuck is the sole survivor of the resulting crash, and washes up on a completely deserted island. Stranded there, he must give up everything that he once took for granted and learn how to survive all alone in the wilderness. From director Robert Zemeckis, CAST AWAY is a story of adventure and discovery surrounding one man's will to stay alive.