Cloud Atlas (2012)
Directors: The Wachowskis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant
Another film to add to the “films that shouldn’t have flopped” file. I’m actually kind of sad that I never got around to watching this one until now, but I am glad I finally got to watch it because I was missing out on an excellent, profound film. Cloud Atlas comes to us from three directors, Andy and Lana Wachowski (the two siblings behind The Matrix trilogy) and Tom Tykwer, the director behind the gruesome and beautiful Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006). Tykwer also directed the ultra stylized Run Lola Run (1998). Why three directors you might ask? Well, this film is extremely complex; it involves various stories occurring in different timelines. It’s a story that spans throughout many decades, past, present and future. The Wachowski’s directing this one makes sense because they are used to directing complex films with a lot of special effects and having Tom Tykwer involved makes sense as well, his Run Lola Run was all about how our smallest actions can profoundly affect other people’s lives, which is essentially what Cloud Atlas is all about.
I’ m not going to attempt to explain or mention the premise for each of the story lines here because that would make for a convoluted review, instead, I’ll present you guys with the films themes in a nutshell. This is a story about people fighting for injustices throughout history. In each of the story lines, an atrocity is being committed against humanity, be it through racism, bigotry or plain and simple evil. In each of the story lines, characters are fighting against said injustices. The most interesting aspect of the whole film is how all the characters are connected, as if each one of them had come back through reincarnation to continue fighting evil in their new life or to evolve. There’s this prevailing idea that we evolve through time; in one life a character might be a scoundrel, but in the next he has learned his lesson and has evolved into a kind hearted individual. At the center of it all is the idea that truth, love and goodness must prevail and that we cannot let evil slip through the cracks.
I remember when this film was first released; it got a lot of “worst of the year” reviews. I cannot understand why; It’s a beautiful film with something important to say. Fight the injustice, human rights need to be respected, we all need our dignity and our freedom to be who we want to be in this world. But I guess movies with a good message aren’t as popular as nonsensical action movies and yet, here’s the thing, Cloud Atlas proves to be an entertaining film as well. It’s not preachy, or boring, in fact, it has some kick ass action in it! In this way, it reminded me of a recent favorite of mine, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland (2015), which while giving a valid, positive message to the masses still managed to be wildly entertaining and include incredible visual effects. Same thing with Cloud Atlas, a poignant film that got lost in the shuffle. Some will undoubtedly find it a “messy” story, but in all honesty, if you have a brain in your head and stick with the story all the way to the end, you will “get it”, you will see that there is a cohesiveness to the tale, you will see that it will all make sense in the end. You will see the inter-connectivity between the stories and you will see that they all relate to the message of fighting the injustices in our society. You will see that it’s all about us, fighting for our rights to be free, to live our lives in spite of the fact that there are forces out there that would have it otherwise.
Production wise, it must have been a daunting task to make this movie. Actors recount how one day they’d be dressed as a pirate, the next day as a doctor, the next day as someone from the future, I have to say it all worked out in the end, which is what matters. The Wachowski’s have been making unsuccessful movies for some time now, Speed Racer (2008), Cloud Atlas (2012) and most recently Jupiter Ascending (2015), which makes me wonder if we’ll see a film from them again. If I know how Hollywood works, we probably won’t. Still, if you haven’t given Cloud Atlas a chance, then maybe you should. It’s got a formidable cast composed of Tom Hanks, Halley Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving, Keith David, I mean it just goes on and on and each actor plays various characters throughout time, it’s interesting to see them portraying all these different characters. Bottom line is, you probably missed out on this one when it originally released (like me), but you should give it a shot, the Wachowski’s made a good one and most of the world missed it.
Rating: 4 out of 5