Cast Away

2000, Movie, PG-13, 143 mins


It's hard to know what to make of a movie in which the hero ponders a metaphorical crossroads in his life while standing at a literal crossroads. Insipid or inspired? The problem with Robert Zemeckis's visually and viscerally eye-punching Robinson Crusoe tale is that you can't say for sure. Could the movie really be as thematically trite as an inspirational office poster? Or is it an admirably stripped-down examination of the ancestral essence of being human? FedEx troubleshooter Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) doesn't worry about such Big Questions. He's airlifted into Moscow and other emerging capitalist hot-spots when local operations are absolutely, positively running from that tireless hunter: time. (It's allegorical! Get it?) Summoned on Christmas to make an emergency run, Chuck leaves his fiancée Kelly (Helen Hunt) with the promise that he'll return on New Year's Eve. Cue a perfect storm: Chuck and a FedEx jet crew lose radio contact and crash into the Pacific Ocean in a truly harrowing, you-are-there disaster sequence. This is no film for the squeamish, particularly after Chuck and a few FedEx packages wash up on an unnamed, utterly uninhabited island (Fiji's Monukiri and Mana, actually). Almost everything, from what Chuck's forced to eat to his horror at the consequences of a desert-island toothache, is accompanied by all the blood and guts left over from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Add in Chuck's deteriorating hold on sanity — evinced by the inspired conceit of his relationship with a volleyball on which he's drawn a face — and you have a long middle section of bravura filmmaking. But once Chuck gets home, the film turns anticlimactic and emotionally nil, and there's a startling lack of chemistry between Hanks and an unimpressive Hunt. leave a comment --Frank Lovece

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Cast Away
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