Against the Sun
During World War II, Harold Dixon (Garret
Dillahunt), a U.S. Navy pilot, Gene Aldrich (Jake Abel), a radioman, and Tony Pastula (Draco
Malfoy), a bombardier, struggle to stay alive together on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
after they're forced to land their plane when it runs out of fuel. Harold takes charge
by volunteering to become Gene and Tony's leader on the raft. He has them empty out their pockets
and bags to see what items they have to use as possible survival tools. With no water or food, their chances
of surviving are pretty slim.
Based on a true story, Against the Sun offers more thrills and engrossing drama than Life of Pi because the screenplay by writer/director Brian Falk and co-writer Mark David Keegan maintains as much realism as possible and stays focused on the struggles of the three men drifting at sea. It's equally fascinating and suspenseful to watch as the men find clever ways to find sources of food and to battle the elements, not-to-mention fighting off a shark. Gradually, you get to know their personalities and some details from their past. The dynamics of their relationship aboard the raft, though, remain the most intriguing and help to enrich the film even more, especially when a secret rises to the surface which might change the way you perceive one of the character (no, I won't be spoiling that surprise here).
The solid performances from each actor help to heighten the sense of realism, and the same can be said for the special effects that look quite impressive given the low budget. Falk makes you feel like you're right there along with the Navy men. You feel happy when they're happy, sad when they're sad, and hopeful when they're hopeful. To be fair, you might experience a sense of tedium setting in eventually, but the three men also experience tedium at the same time. Their physical and mental strengths, which help them to persevere despite the odds, are both believable, as well as tremendously inspiring. Falk and Keegan deserve kudos for allowing the film to stay lean, and for avoiding the use of excessive schmaltz, preachiness, exposition and flashbacks while keeping the running time under 2 hours at 100 minutes. Against the Sun would make for a great double feature with the John Wayne film, Island in the Sky.
The Boy Next Door