Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Come to beautiful Hawaii, the tropical paradise of the Pacific. Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) has returned to Hawaii and Hickam AFB, although he is no longer an air force officer. And his former girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams) is now married to Major John Woodside (John Krasinski) and has two children. So as Sam the piano player once famously said to Ilsa, a lot of water has gone under the bridge.
These days Brian Gilcrest is a contractor, working for billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray) on a hush-hush space satellite program. As a VIP of sorts, Brian has Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone), F-22 fighter pilot, assigned as his escort officer to assist him in his duties. Captain Ng is a native of the state, 1/4 Hawaiian, 1/4 Chinese and 1/2 Swedish, and insists on giving Brian a running commentary on the island’s history and customs. Gilcrest, having been stationed there as an air force officer, believes he knows enough about Hawaii without her help. As if the satellite program wasn’t enough to worry about, Gilcrest is tasked to negotiate with the native Hawaiian tribal government on rights to a new gate for the air force base.
If there wasn’t enough on Brian Gilcrest’s plate, he has four star General Dixon (Alec Baldwin) on his back to not screw up the high visibility satellite program, code named Brave Angel. While we don’t get a lot of background, there is obviously some history between the two men from the time when Gilcrest was on active duty.
This is a very good movie, character driven with darn good acting. The only problem is there are too many major plot lines struggling to be resolved in just two hours. There is the troubled Brian Gilcrest coming back to Hawaii with all sorts of unresolved feelings for former flame Tracy, and her issues for Brian and the husband as well. The attractive and ebullient Captain Ng has inserted herself into Brian’s life and mission. There is a brief treatment of the native Hawaiians and their attempts to maintain relevance in their own land. Oh yeah, and then there is the enigmatic and charming Carson Welch and the all important satellite project. It just feels like none of the story lines had enough chance to breathe on their own, but it was a brave effort anyway. Worth seeing, especially in the summer season of movies that mostly blow stuff up.
Huh? What the….: Emma Stone as half Hawaiian and Chinese? Those other Swedish genes really kicked butt!
Actor To Watch: This movie would have benefitted with more of Alec Baldwin in it. He has become one of the best character actors in the business, with a real flair for comedy. If he ever gets the right vehicle he should win an Oscar. Just saying.
Dialogue Nuggets: Gilcrest – “Colonel, I am here to save you and your big, white obsolete whale.”
Gilcrest – “I don’t even remember why we broke up.” Tracy – “We broke up because you didn’t show up for a vacation!”
Gilcrest – “I saw that missile coming and I didn’t get out of the way. I didn’t care.”
“We have stuff to deal with before the famous Gilcrest exodus.”
Tracy – “Was he angry?” Daughter – “He decapitated Santa Claus!”
Carson – “You can’t stop the future with one silly desperate act.”
Gen Dixon – “One more thing, Mister Three Day Beard Guy. Stay away from Allison Ng!”
Gilcrest – “Well, I remember the good times.” Gen Dixon – “THERE WERE NO GOOD TIMES!”