Redford, Hanks and Bullock fight it out alone

Now we have had Redford, Hanks and Bullock battle it out, alone in a survival capsule. Yes, Sandra Bullock has George Clooney in tow for some of her trip, and Tom Hanks has some Somalis to deal with, and as a sort of company. But Captain Phillips casts the Somalis as a sort of buzzing pestilence, more a plague than a set of personalities; and George Clooney has a presence which is  absently jokey when it isn’t positively ghostly. Which is the winner? 

I am told on all sides that I am wrong to admire Gravity for its portrayal of a gutsy woman: I get told that insofar it allows Ms Bullock to be solid, it undermines the effect by making her spout pages of psychobabble. When I criticise Captain Phillips for its portrayal of the Somalis just as trouble, and (contrariwise) Somali pirate recruiting taking place shoreside amongst simple fishermen, people sort of concede the point but I am told by shipping experts that much of the ship stuff seems about right. I haven’t read expert yachty analysis of All is Lost, but it seems to be technically and humanly pretty sharp to me.

I was absorbed by the Redford, but have to acknowledge that it is hard going. The Hanks was very exciting, and irrespective of whether it is a good portrait of the real event, Hanks himself was wholly and richly convincing, as well as quite bleak. I maintain that the Bullock will last as a giddy, astonishing,uplifting ride and that the feelgood it delivers takes it well beyond the normal disaster movie.

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Publication date

04 January 2014


On movies