WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Triple threat writer/producer/director Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Mcguire“, “Almost Famous“, “Vanilla Sky“) travels into the realm of romantic dramedy for his newest effort, set in the island paradise of Hawaii. Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) used to be at the top of his game as a much sought after military contractor. But when multiple circumstances cause him to fall from grace, he finds himself drawn into a new chance to redeem his mistakes and regain his career. Heading to Honolulu to take on a new assignment, it brings him face to face with former girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams) as well as into the sights of his appointed “watchdog”, Air Force Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone). Thrown by the resurfacing and unconcluded past with Tracy, yet inexplicably drawn to Capt. Ng, life becomes even more complicated as the actual details of his mission begin to get revealed. A billionaire boss, Carson Welch (Bill Murray), his commanding officer, General Dixon (Alec Baldwin), a dear friend, Colonel “Fingers” Lacy (Danny McBride), and another friend who’s also Tracy’s husband, John “Woody” Woodside (John Krasinsky) all come into Gilcrest’s circle of existence along as well. Soon, Gilcrest finds himself completely torn between an unwavering sense of commitment to his appointed task, responsibility for revelations involving Tracy and their previous relationship, and his newly developing and deepening love for Capt. Ng. Decisions then arise that will ultimately test the resolve Gilcrest has to see things turn out the way they’re meant to for everyone.
Presenting a well-written, well executed blending of drama and romantic comedy, the film moves along at a brisk pace and never makes the audience feel like they’re being left behind amidst the intertwining events involved with Gilcrest’s journey. Cooper is solid as always, able to play the intelligent but oddly fumbling and emotionally distant everyman who has a new awakening in life and love to a “T”. McAdams, likewise, is simply wonderful as Tracy, whose own sense of not having let go of the past sometimes gets in the way of focusing on keeping the present and future in mind upon seeing and interacting with Gilcrest again, all while dealing with her own hesitations about Woody. And for this reviewer, the real gem is Stone, who absolutely radiates her charm as Capt. Ng, infusing her with the straight-laced, smart, and sharp tact of the military officer she is while also being completely endearing, gentle, playfully witty, and caught off guard when being swept up in the unexpected love she experiences for Gilcrest. The other supporting players including Krasinski’s nuanced performance as Woody, Murray’s eccentric elitist, and Baldwin’s entertaining Dixon all help enhance the greater story. The beautiful Hawaiian backdrop certainly doesn’t hurt the proceedings either, and it is a beauty explored in several ways throughout moments between multiple characters. Add to this a tear-inducing, poignant finale that is enacted on multiple levels as well, and even when you feel you know how things will end up, the steps to get there keep you captured.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!