Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer whose personal and professional life are ruled by the clock. His fast-paced career takes him, often at a moment's notice, to far-flung locales - and away from his girlfriend Kelly. Chuck's manic existence abruptly ends when, after a plane crash, he becomes isolated on a remote island - cast away into the most desolate environment imaginable. Stripped of the conveniences of everyday life, he first must meet the basic needs of survival, including water, food and shelter. Chuck, the consummate problem solver, eventually figures out how to sustain himself physically. But then what? Chuck begins his personal journey. After four years, fate gives Chuck a chance to fight his way back to civilization, only to find an unexpected emotional challenge greater than all the earlier physical ones. His ability to persevere and to hope are a product of his life-changing experience. Though the conclusion of Chuck's story may not be a conventional Hollywood ending, it is, like life, full of truth, pain and promise.
The core of this contemporary Robinson Crusoe story is an unforgettably gripping survival drama. Tom Hanks is a Federal Express employee shipwrecked on a desert island after a plane crash. Physical survival depends on things like rubbing two sticks together to start a fire and cracking open coconuts. For companionship, he paints a face on a volleyball and names it Wilson. As in all his films, Hanks makes his character compelling by infusing him with a childlike openness. But the interrupted love story that frames the survival sequences is sappy and formulaic. — Stephen Holden
2000-12-22 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of Cast Away