From the beginning, I found this movie disturbing. It starts with a voice reading a message where the voice talks about being adrift, only a half day of food left and ends it by reading "All Is Lost". Then a caption pops up on the screen that says: "Eight days earlier" and the movie starts with the boat impaled on the container. What! Eight days from his collision to when he writes a note saying "All is lost"! This seemed to be the theme of the entire movie. A theme of a lack of urgency and skill and giving up when things get rough. Eight days is not very long for survival at sea. Many have survived much longer, but our hero seems to show little resourcefulness or mental toughness to survive.
From the beginning, many inaccuracies show up. After the collision with the container, our hero shows a lack of urgency with stopping the inrush of water and repairing the damage. He tries the electrical system to I assume start the electric bilge pump. Nothing works. Hmm, are the batteries flooded? No, when he removes one, it is clearly visible that it is a sealed, AGM(absorbed glass mat) battery that should have withstood immersion. And it did have power left in it to try to make his radio operate. Instead he had to manually pump out the boat with a pump handle cut from a mop handle. What! Here is a boat that probably sailed half way around the world and the proper pump handle was not aboard? And was not lanyard to the boat next to the pump?
Anyway, he tries to make a distress call by broadcasting on a VHF radio( a radio with line of sight transmission only) with the term "SOS". This is laughable as "SOS" was a distress signal developed for Morse Code(..., ---, ...). The proper voice distress call(since 1927) is "Mayday" repeated three times. Where does the moviemaker get this stuff?
He notices that a storm is approaching, so rather than preparing the boat and hanking on the storm jib, he spends valuable time shaving! So when the storm arrives, he is caught trying to manhandle a storm sail around while the waves are breaking aboard. He is rolled a couple of times and is dismasted. Every time he goes on deck, he leaves the companionway hatch and hatchboards open allowing water to flood the boat. He finally abandons the sailboat with nothing but the liferaft. Where is his "ditch bag". Most sailors I know prepare a kit of survival gear that is stored with the raft and goes with the raft. This kit will have survival food, water, flares and other survival equipment. I would include a handheld GPS, handheld VHF radio and a hand operated reverse osmosis water maker.
After the storm and an uncomfortable night in the life raft, the morning is calm. The sailboat is still afloat no thanks to the sailor who left the hatches open so the boat could flood. Our hero reboards the boat to finally try to get provision to survive. He also spends a lot of time retrieving a sextant(celestial navigation device) from a locker deep within the boat. No effort was made to save the boat from sinking and it finally does go down. Since his life raft was still tethered to the sailboat, I was expecting the sailboat to pull the raft under.
The time in the raft was a bit more believable. He showed some ingenuity in constructing a solar still that allowed him to process some drinking water. But when he unwrapped the sextant, the look on his face was one of "what is this?". As has happened with other survivors, while drifting for a few days, ships did not respond to his distress signals.
His final act of signaling for help was one of desperation with no further chance of survival if it failed. This to me is where "All Is Lost" does not present a story of courage and perseverance. The Tom Hanks movie, "Cast Away" is a lot more believable as a story of survival.
Because of the numerous inaccuracies in this movie and the theme throughout of giving up, I do not recommend this movie. I think that most people will be drawn to this movie because the only character is played by a known actor, Robert Redford. And in nautical "speak", I give this movie two marlinspikes down!
When Walter cannot find a negative that is targeted for the last Life Magazine cover, he starts on a worldwide search for the photographer, his hero Sean O Connell (Sean Penn) to find out what happened to the missing negative. This leads to travels to Greenland, Iceland, Afghanistan and the Himalaya mountains. Although unbelievable things happen to Walter, he discovers himself along the way. Using clues from other negatives, he finds Sean and the negative. In his last task with the company, he presents it to his boss along with a lecture. In the end, he is terminated from Life as it is closing, he "gets" the girl and he stands taller! This is a great movie for us "daydreamers".
The scenes in the movie were spectacular. The mountain scenes especially were good. The movie was well made. The actors believable. I think Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty, played this part well. I give this movie "two iceaxes up" and recommend it as a good movie to watch.