When talk of ambitious projects comes up in conversation then the likes of Life Of Pi, Watchmen and others regularly occur, but now it seems that the most ambitious project of all seems to be making waves, Cloud Atlas. Captivating and awe-inspiring, Cloud Atlas looks into a world where all of our lives are linked in some way and tells various stories of love, life and loss as we span decades to witness various individuals experience life-changing events.
Each story very different from one another yet interlinking with pure genius, Cloud Atlas throws up many a sub-plot all combining to create an unforgettable cinematic experience. Spanning across 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144 and the very distant future, the stories are each their own fascinating entity. Beginning with Adam Lewing’s (Jim Sturgess) morality-questioning story aboard a ship during the age of slavery, the film then heads into the life of Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw), a talented young musician who falls in love with Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) and looks to complete his masterpiece, The Cloud Atlas Sextet. Heading further forward, we then track the steps of reporter Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) as she meets an older Sixsmith and finds herself embroiled in the uncovering of a nuclear plot as her life is on the line, with a hitman (Hugo Weaving) on her tail.
Heading into 2012, Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) hits the jackpot when the author he represents is sent to prison for murder and sales of his books fly high. Unfortunately for him, his lust for money sees violent men on his tail and a prank played on him that will change his way of living forever. Zipping forward to a more futuristic world, the penultimate story takes us to 2144 where we become acquainted with Sonmi-451, a clone working in a restaurant who finds solace in freedom fighter Hae-Joo Chang (Sturgess). The final story is set in The Valley, where human civilisation has been depleted and there are cannibals wreaking havoc. When Meronym (Berry) calls upon Zachry (Tom Hanks) to aid her in finding the Cloud Atlas communications technology, the pair embark on a dangerous mission through the mountains.
Such a blend of differing stories is bound to confuse even the most challenged of minds but to Cloud Atlas’ merit it does a superb job of making things as clear as possible. Initially setting out each story in chronological order, we soon see things blended and mixed up, but in such a way as to maintain a pace and understanding that things don’t get too overwhelming. It is clear that the directing trio of Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer have carefully planned out and dissected the stories from the book to create a marvelous outing.
Of the stories to follow we will all have our favourites, and the stand-outs for me personally are those of Robert Frobisher and the futuristic world of Sonmi; both hugely diverse yet awe-inspiring. In the case of Ben Whishaw, the actor produces a sublime performance and really shows that he is an actor who is heading for all the right places.
With Tom Hanks on usual top form (look out for his crazy Irish author!) and the rest of the cast very impressive, Cloud Atlas is an awe-inspiring movie that breaks the boundaries of expectations and ambition. It's just a shame that it is let down by its runtime that slightly meanders into overstaying its welcome.
Film Rating: 4 out of 5 F's