All Is Lost? You have no idea.
I’m about to save you twelve dollars and about two hours of your life. Robert Redford lives.
Frustrated? Good. You’re supposed to feel frustrated, because that’s all the movie makes you feel. Out of all of the survival movies you will ever see, expect All Is Lost to be a bare, boring, and mindlessly pointless experience.
Here is the premise of the movie: Robert Redford is on a boat, trying to survive against storms at sea.
That’s it. That’s as much depth and interest as you’re going to get with this film’s premise. Make no mistake fellow reader: All Is Lost is aggressively bad. It is the most boring film of the year. It is the most forgettable film of the year. If the Academy Awards had an award for Most Mundane Picture of The Year, All Is Lost wouldn’t only be the winner of the category, it would be the only film nominated.
And yet, strangely enough, the movie has been mostly well-received by critics. The movie has a 94 percent rating on Rottentomatoes and an 88 percent on Metacritic, so there will be no shortage of people trying to defend it. Here are the most popular arguments defending the movie:
“The film is great at latching your attention despite limited dialogue.”
It’s true that the first 20 minutes are exciting enough to do a good job at latching you’re attention. The other hour and a half, however, could not be more repetitive or frustrating. Only two lines of dialogue are spoken throughout the film: “This is Virginia Gene with an S.O.S. call, over?” and profanity. That’s it. The rest of the movie is Redford staring out into an empty ocean with a deep, dreary melody playing in the background. Oh boy! Music! That sure will keep us interested!
“J.C. Chandor was masterful as a writer/director.”
It’s hard to make an argument that he even wrote this. The screenplay was a little more than 31 pages, barely any material to substantiate a feature-length motion picture. Chandor, who is most known for the intelligent and conversational Margin Call in 2011, was great as a writer, making an intelligent, well-crafted picture filled with character depth, dialogue and dimension. Now, he has reverted to making All Is Lost. Why? What convinced him to step out of his comfort zone as a writer? With the clever, intelligent and enticing dialogue now missing from Margin Call, his sense of style is just as absent, and it gives the film an empty feeling that feels like it’s just half complete. It’s better, in fact, to describe the movie as a feature-length short film, meaning it’s a 30-minute television special stretched out to feature length simply to enhance profit.
“Robert Redford was incredible in the movie.”
Yes, I see Redford is in the movie. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. He is completely and utterly useless. Notice with the plot synopsis, I never called him by his character name. That is because his character doesn’t have a name, credited as “Our Man” on the international movie database. Redford is not acting here. He is modeling, staging and positioning himself in meager, idle positions and actions as Chandor commands him to flip from one side of the boat to another. The character is so impersonal, so thinly written and so emotionally bleak that there is little reason to care about him or be motivated by his journey. So thanks, Chandor, for casting Redford in a character nobody gives two rips about.
Compare this to any survival movie written and produced in the past 30 years. Jaws. Cast Away. 127 Hours. The Grey. Gravity. Look at all of those movies and try to remember the emotions you felt while watching them. What is it about those movies that latched everyone’s attention? What captivated audiences and compelled them to care for these characters to survive?
That’s exactly it: Characters. We cared about Chief Brody when his son barely missed the shark’s jaws. We care about Chuck and Wilson because Chuck needs to get home to his girlfriend Kelly. We care about Aaron Ralston because of how estranged he was with his family, with John Ottoway when we realize his wife is dying, or with Doctor Stone when we realize what became of her daughter.
We care about these characters not because of their situations, but because of their inner turmoils that compelled them to keep living: They all had something to live for.
What reason does Robert Redford have to live for? We are told nothing except for that he’s “Our Man.” Riiiiiiight.
It’s movies like Jaws and Cast Away that keeps us away from the ocean, but it’s movies like All Is Lost that keeps us away from the movie theater. All Is Lost? You have no idea.