An unnamed man (Robert Redford) is on a sailing voyage in the Indian Ocean, far away from home and land.

On waking he finds his mid sized yacht (12m) has been holed beneath the water line by a shipping container full of sports shoes. Such an event is annoying, frustrating but given some practical smarts, not insurmountable.

It is evident our Man has plenty of experience and reacts calmly to the incident, practically taking steps to repair the damage. Whilst radio and navigation equipment may have been affected, the situation can still be recovered, no big dramas.

It is difficult to cover too many details without revealing the films central premise. Here we have a man in a situation that can be remedied provided his judgement is sound, the weather remains settled and luck remains on his side.

Like a slowly peeled onion, the film incrementally reveals steps all of which appear realistic, gradual and not particularly threatening, yet build gradually into a quest for survival against the odds.

Redford is a veteran actor and probably has not been better for some time, holding quite literally central stage for the entire film. After thirty minutes or so, you may realise what is missing, there is almost no dialogue and yet due to good storytelling and acting, the omission is barely noticed.

Director J. C. Chandor is clearly experimenting with an ultra minimal cast list, lack of dialogue and occasionally slips in some beautiful cinematography.

The film works well, although may not be to everyone’s taste, yet anyone who has ever been to sea will be able to relate. This is a very straightforward tale told with minimum obvious effects, albeit many behind the scenes providing the illusion of open sea sailing.

Kudos to Redford now 77, spending what must have been most of the shoot, in less than pleasant circumstances.

There are a few inconsistencies or continuity errors with matching seas from one shot to another but this does not detract from the very real emotions the film provokes. Whether this all ends well will be determined by your level of optimism, the director and cast certainly manage to take the audience on a gruelling journey.

Of course with good acting, strong story but with no superhero’s, aliens or battling giant robots (plot give-away) the film was largely ignored by mainstream audiences, which is shame. By no means perfect but certainly worth 106 minutes of your time.


Anyone that has ever been on a smaller vessel especially on the open sea, can relate to the anxieties on show here.

Well worth a watch, arguably better seen with limited pre-information, allowing the film to unravel with no prior knowledge.