After losing his crew in a fatal crash, legendary Rescue Swimmer, Ben Randall (Kevin Costner), is sent to teach at “A” School, an elite training program for Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. Wrestling with the loss of his crew members, he throws himself into teaching, turning the program upside down with his unorthodox training methods. While there, he encounters a young, cocky swim champ, Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher), who is driven to be the best. During training, Randall helps mold Jake’s character, combining his raw talent with the heart and dedication required of a Rescue Swimmer.
I went into this with rather low expectations, I will admit. Yeah, I've liked a lot of Kevin Coster's movies, but I hadn't seen one in years, and Ashton Kutcher comes across as the goofy yet kinda cute kid who does silly movies and shows liked "Punk'd". But the preview looked good and I do have a weakness for movies where the aging hero must pass along his torch to the young know-it-all, who ends up earning the respect of the "old guy". You know what's going to happen because movies like this always have a formula, and that's just fine with me. Just make it work.
Ashton Kutcher is rather confident in his abilities...
And it does, on many levels. Jake is a cocky, swaggering overachiever who announces right from the start he is going to break all of Senior Chief Ben Randall's records, only to have the man himself overhear the comment in a very public fashion. This comes in handy for a future scene btw, and not really how you might expect. And that's a good way to describe some of the events that do take place: not as you might expect. Sure, Fischer and Randall clash, yet from the start there is recognition and respect. And yes, because Jake is our young hero that all the teenage girls squeal over, there is a girl, but he definitely has to work for her attention. Both Randall and Fischer have their own baggage they carry with them for various reasons, and the inevitable tragedies that pepper the movie emphasize that what these men do is a heroic job, but not a romantic or glamorous one.
Overall, I loved the movie. The 2 1/2 hours flew by, and there was definitely a lot of growing up done in the movie, and not just by the main characters. If I have any complaints, it's the roles of the females, or maybe I should say lack thereof, which seems to be standard for action movies. Ben is married, but his wife is leaving him in the beginning of the movie and doesn't really appear much after that. Jake's girl is also relegated to the background, like an afterthought, maybe to show how relationships in this line of work just don't count as the top priority. But even the females students in the program are virtually ignored, which kinda ticks me off Women face harder challenges, especially in these types of positions, which are more physical and require strenuous training to prepare. I would have liked to have seen that, but I guess that would have made it a 3 1/2 hour movie.
Even age can't totally erase Kevin Costner's appeal:
he makes a great tortured hero
I won't spoil the ending but I'm sure you can figure it out because like I mentioned, it has a formula. (I'm such a bad reviewer at my own blog, saving all the juicy stuff and not giving any spoilers). But do go see the movie. I think you'll really like it. There really isn't a lot out there to see, at least nothing I found to be interesting, and this movie is a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon or an evening out with friends. And if this movie doesn't make you cry, something is seriously wrong with you LOL. Take the movie challenge....
What movie out there would you recommend?