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Canopy Literally Drops a Soldier On an Island

Welp.
Welp.
© Jin Chuan Pictures

Shot down over Singaporean rainforest during WWII, an Australian fighter pilot (Khan Chittenden) wakes up in a tree, swinging from his parachute in writer-director Aaron Wilson’s ambitiously immersive, thinly plotted debut -- a minimalist survival nightmare that more closely resembles All Is Lost’s near-wordless procedural than Gravity’s running-commentary panic attack.

Add a little Hell in the Pacific, too: The lost Aussie eventually runs into a Chinese resistance fighter (Mo Tzu-Yi), and the frightened, unarmed duo reluctantly team up and communicate through pantomime. Without historical context or character backstories, the film atmospherically but aimlessly tracks the duo as they skulk around the muddy mangroves, evading a Japanese sweep of the area.

Stefan Duscio’s striking and meditative cinematography, aided by a complex soundscape that accentuates the birds, bugs, bullets, and bombs seemingly just at the edge of earshot, makes for a visceral viewing experience. But the dread gets weakened by too-leisurely pacing. The film struggles to hold viewer attention even at a mere 84 minutes, and despite Wilson’s early control and aesthetic confidence, there isn’t a single scripted idea of weight or emotionality that pays off.

Much like his flyboy underdog in the opening sequence, Wilson simply can’t stick the landing.

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Film Society of Lincoln Center - Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

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