Having just worked my way through Brian Falk’s tense and dramatic Against The Sun, I have decided I that a more apt title for this movie would be ‘Against Pretty Much Everything’. The movie follows the true story of three WW2 bomber pilots stranded in the Pacific Ocean following an emergency crash landing of their plane in enemy waters. As my revamped title suggests, this is just the start of their worries as they have to fight against sharks, the weather, sharks, dehydration, sharks, their own doubts and fears, AND SHARKS, all in order to survive.
The film doesn’t hang around getting going. In fact, other than establishing that Japan are the bad guys, and that the ocean is really, really big there is no kind of scene setting or character introduction before the plane is in the ocean and they’re busying themselves with not dying. At first this annoyed me, without any kind of introduction I didn’t know enough about the characters to care if they lived or died. However, as the movie progressed and their situation became direr, I found my apathy fading and my interest and involvement in the plot increasing almost to the point where I was going to watch the last ten minutes on a lilo eating raw fish fingers to get a more authentic experience.
As with any survival movie with a small cast and singular plot line, strong performances from the cast are essential, and the three leads here don’t let the side down. Dodgy accent aside (it took me twenty minutes to realise he wasn’t trying to be Irish), Tom Felton continues to prove he is much more than a sneering, greasy haired Draco Malfoy with a strong performance. His grim determination juxtaposed with a youthful naivety is mirrored nicely in the performance of Jake Abel and the light-hearted dialogue and rapport between these two kept the tone just happy enough to keep me from turning the movie off out of despair. The strongest performance of the three though was from Garret Dillahunt. Flitting between strong, fearless leader and terrified, ashamed failure, he provides an excellent portrayal of someone who is determined to survive against the odds.
The performances though -while impressive – are by no means the only positive aspect of the movie though. Director Brian Falk uses a nice mixture of angles to give a good portrayal of the isolation and claustrophobic nature that would no doubt be experienced whilst stranded at sea, and he also has the common sense and trust in the true story to not take too many artistic licenses in his retelling.
Overall, while Against The Sun is by no means groundbreaking, it is a faithful and accurate retelling of a pretty amazing true story. And considering most ‘true story’ films these days are either based upon somebody getting possessed and/or brutally murdered, this provides a welcome change of pace.
Dir: Brian Falk
Scr: Brian Falk, Mark David Keegan
Cast: Garret Dillahunt, Tom Felton, Jake Abel
Prd: Brian Falk
Music: Paul Mills
Run time: 99 minutes
Against the Sun is available now on DVD.