When the writer/director of Margin Call, Chandor, takes on a survival movie you’re going to get something rather unique. In their own words, the producers desscribe the story as “an existential action film.” They’re not wrong.
With little dialogue over it’s 1.75 hours, this is all about the visuals, situation, and the calm, focused approach of our nameless protagonist played by Redford (Captain America, The Company You Keep). The lack of dialogue forces you to begin to examine the drive, actions, and emotions of the only human on screen and wonder what you would do, how you would react, and, ultimately, how you would resolve the situation.
All is Lost is beautifully filmed and realistically planned. Sadly, the video transfer doesn’t quite do it credit at times. But that minor weakness aside, the movie is both chilling and triumphant, empowering and crushing. Redford carries the film wonderfully, but he is a puppet more than a character which, I think, why he didn’t manage to get an Oscar nod this past year. It just isn’t that kind of performance, for all the power of it. That doesn’t diminish the strength of the final film, only comments on how the craft would be compared to his fellows in the field. This is a moving and musing piece of art that is more Chandor’s creation than his sole actor’s.
You’d think this story would get slow or boring, but the pressure rarely wanes and your heart and attention do not waiver. This is an intense 106 min and there is some good commentary as well walking through the decisions and effort to create this unique and powerful piece of philosophical and adventure art.