First Hit: At times the story was whimsical, then thoughtful, and generally improbable.
This film seemed like it didn’t know what it wanted to be. Was it a romance? Was it about how rich people and their companies try to influence and deceive the government for their own gain? Or was it about the culture and people of Hawaii and how they been treated by the government?
It probably was supposed to be all three and it failed because, in the end, the film didn’t work. I enjoyed the relationship between Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) and Allison Ng (Emma Stone). My heart was pulled by Gilcrest trying to put closure on his previous relationship with Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams).
The scenes between Brian and his friend John “Woody” Woodside (John Krasinski), Tracy’s current husband, were priceless.
The story about how the government is contracting satellite launches to private companies is real but the added piece that the contractor put a nuclear device on the satellite was improbable. This seemed to be part of the film so that there could be a hero. The part that would have made this story more interesting would have been to add scenes about native Hawaiians and how they viewed the land and the sky. Some of the more beautiful scenes were when Gilcrest and Ng were with the Hawaiians on their sacred land.
For the most part this film didn’t know what it wanted to be and the fault lies with the writer and director, Cameron Crowe.
Cooper was really good in moments in the film. When he’s working relationships, he’s superb, when it involves him working his job, his acting comes off as mixed and not embodied. Stone’s character was a little high strung for me and, I think, for her as well. It didn’t come off very well. When she settled down a little she created a wonderful character and it worked. Her chemistry with Cooper was great. John Krasinski was excellent as the silent quiet man who struggled with letting his feelings being shared. Bill Murray as the business man Carson Welch who was attempting to put the armed satellite into space was OK, but not really a great fit. Rachel McAdams, as Cooper’s old girlfriend and Krasinski’s wife, was good and her performance and believability was elevated when her daughter’s blood line was revealed. Best scene in the film? Probably when Gilcrest stands outside his daughter’s dance studio and they connect eye to eye. Cameron Crowe seem mixed in his ability to create and execute a cohesive story and film.
Overall: Having the three stories in one film didn’t work and ended up creating a scattered, somewhat lifeless movie.