Until today I didn’t have a Crusoe what happened in Cast Away, the story of a loyal FedEx employee who is neither delivered nor returned to sender when his plane crash lands in the Pacific. He finds himself on an island where he knows nothing about the geography, climate or food, so pretty much your average American abroad. But does it deliver?
Here Hanks proves why he’s one of the most enduring leading men of his generation, carrying the entire mid-section of the film on his increasingly thin shoulders. The straight-laced and corporate Chuck goes through desperation to self-induced psychosis in order to survive in the harsh environment. It’s almost like a one-man play as he and director Robert Zemeckis keep us constantly engaged in scenes which dart between desperately sad, funny and heartwarming.
The island is effortlessly brought to life with location shooting and special effects which still look good 20 years later, a long break in the filming schedule providing authenticity with Hanks’ genuinely altered appearance. And kudos for an early scene which appears to genuinely be shot in Red Square, during the brief period where that was possible. Not bad for a film which seems to have been built entirely around FedEx.
Released in 2000, Cast Away has both feet firmly planted in the 90s. It continues for a good 20 minutes longer than it needs to as Chuck returns to the civilized world for some pointless family drama which somehow manages to be the most unrealistic thing in the film. But that aside it’s probably the best big budget survival film until The Revenant. FedExcellent.