I went to this movie with higher expectations than most people. If a movie isn't good overall, but it has Christopher Walken and Robin Williams starring in it, then I'm probably going to like it. I also think those are the only characters that had any of the good lines. It was written for them to shine, but the entire movie failed. I think it was Hemingway that said, "Write the story, take out all the good lines, and see if the story still works." The story just doesn't work. It has a few good one liners, but the plot just stumbles along. There's some effort to create a political suspense/thriller that makes you think the people who made this are underestimating your intelligence. Many of the scenes in the later parts of the film drag on too long, giving the story what people call "a soft middle". These should have been trimmed down, as well as any scene featuring Williams dancing. Also, I found myself asking, often, "Why is she doing that?" and "Why would he believe her?" and so forth. You are left wondering why Williams acts the way he does in response to the supporting cast. If you can't connect with him, then you lose interest in what happens. Now, I read some pretty heavy handed, harsh reviews. They talked about poor cinematography and sound work amongst other things. While I agree these were not up to par with a movie of this budget, I think they were not able to overlook these short comings because of the lack of suspense, motivation, and the overall inability for the viewer to suspend disbelief. It's just bad writing. I laughed a couple of times, but no one around me seemed to be enjoying it as much. They had a great concept, and I really wish they did more with it. This could have easily been one of my favorite movies, but there are way too many problems that cannot be ignored.
The synopsis and inclusion of Val Kilmer wasn't promising, but this movie turned out to be very entertaining and I recommend it for anyone looking for a decent action/drama. I think Kilmer does an amazing job. I don't want to give details away, so I'll be brief. Whether or not it is a work of genius, I don't know, but I do know that it is worth renting. It has it's weaker moments, using narration and flashback ineffectively (in my opinion). I think they could've changed up the order of many of the scenes. Really that is just being picky, everyone will enjoy this movie. I watch a lot of movies. This one is better than most.
Better than his previous films, better than most films...ever
I have to say first off, that I never really "got" Wes Anderson's sense of humor. That is not to say I didn't think parts of his movies were funny, I just think they lacked something. Upon revisiting Rushmore and Bottle Rocket, I still hold out that these movies are appealing to only a select few. Life Aquatic on the other hand, is a much better film over all. I would go so far to say it is the best film to come out of America since "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Anderson makes a logical progression with his imagery, telling his story in cuts rather than just following one guy around the entire time. There's a thick, action-oriented plot that doesn't become weighed down in realism, but withholds information so that we are left the task of immersing ourselves into the movie (which that decision is wise, because movies that give you everything only appeal to a select few). The characters are fully developed, the images are beautiful, and of course the sound mix helps the story, rather than being an interesting side note.