Greetings again from the darkness. Survival movies come in many shapes and styles. There are classy ones like All is Lost (with Robert Redford) and Life of Pi (Academy Award nominee). There are thrilling ones like The Edge (with Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins). And of course there are the kinda trashy ones that usually feature beautiful and clueless people stuck on an island somewhere like in Turistas (with Josh Duhamel).
What we rarely see are survival movies that just don’t have much going on. Open Water is about the closest to this latest from director Gil Cates, Jr and writer Jeff Gendelman, but at least that one offered the constant threat of a shark attack.
Sad sack Mitch (Sean Astin) visits his Alzheimer’s-stricken mom in the nursing home before heading out to the middle of Lake Michigan in what he plans as his final voyage in life. At the most inopportune time – given his goal – it’s his boat that is rendered lifeless thanks to the scattered pieces of a plane crash. Mitch drags the survivor (Chris Mulkey) aboard and the two fellows proceed to prove that their philosophizing and reminiscing are no match for the conversational skills of a boy and his tiger (Life of Pi).
Flashbacks are the key to us understanding the reasons these two crossed paths in such an unusual manner. We see Mitch’s guilt and inability to be a worthy partner in a relationship, and we see pilot Kelly’s desperation in trying to making ends meet for his family and regaining his confidence as a man.
There are a couple of funny “guy” moments (the poet comment made me laugh), yet somehow the conversation of these two men in a life-threatening situation pales in comparison to the exchanges of two gents over a meal in My Dinner with Andre. Where is the danger? Where is the stress? Where is the soul-searching? It’s unfortunate that the extended periods of two guys in a boat just don’t have much to offer for the 86 minute run time, because the stage was set for much more than melodrama.