A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and re-connects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog assigned to him.
After a busy 2011 with documentary releases The Union, and Pearl Jam Twenty as well as the film We Bought a Zoo, director and writer Cameron Crowe has been absent from theatres for the last few years, so it was with keen anticipation that I’ve been waiting for his latest film Aloha, to arrive on our screens.
Despite a strong trailer that captured both some nice character moments and comedic touches, the film rarely lives up to this promise. The opening half of the film is disjointed and lacking identity. Moving quickly from sub-plot to sub-plot, it feels like Crowe kept changing his mind on the type of film he was constructing as the tone and direction chops and changes on a regular basis.
Aloha captures sequences of drama, with some comedic moments that work quite well, spiritual undertones, and an espionage thread against a military setting, none of which articulates very well what the film seems to be trying to deliver.
Aloha is just far too inconsistent in its narrative, and the story meanders along periodically before jumping threads, while ultimately being unable to produce anything particularly interesting. Despite those things however, it does manage to consolidate its storytelling more effectively for its closing act, and in this sense it finishes more strongly than it begins. This is mostly achieved through a shift in focus, and narrowing of the scope so that at least one of the key narratives is explored a bit more thoroughly and brought to a satisfying conclusion.
While the relationships between several of the characters tend to be a bit superficial (and with a modest running time the film could have spent more time on them), Crowe does continue to excel in how he handles their characterisation in the film, and this is one of its strongest points. Through the nuances and demeanour of character in its writing, Crowe effectively captures some really strong performances, though only in a few instances do the characters receive this level of care.
Cooper and Stone work pretty well together, with Cooper playing the world weary cynic, and Stone the young vibrant go-getter, though the reveal of Stone’s character background can be somewhat illusion breaking, particularly given how often the film revisits the point. Bill Murray is horribly underutilised, as is Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin injects some comedic life into the film as does John Krasinski in more subtle, quirky way as you’d expect, while Rachel McAdams isn’t given much to do here and comes off a little bland.
Aloha has drawn a gruelling critical reception from reviewers, and while the film clearly has its share of problems, there is still some enjoyable content to be found here – it’s not a complete misfire. The cast are enjoyable to watch, there are some odd creative choices but there is a nice quirky character nature about the film, and with a stronger finishing act it closes out on a good note.
I’m giving it 2.5 out of 5 stars, Aloha was released in cinemas around Australia from Thursday 4th June 2015.