Cloud Atlas

They said this novel by David Mitchell could never be filmed, but the theme is simple: Everything is connected. Of course, these are the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix franchise) and this long-awaited film IS incredibly complicated... but simple: We follow a group of people whose reincarnated lives keep intersecting over the eons; in fact one observes "...when this Mortal Coil becomes a noose..."

This R-rated Sci Fi/Thriller/Romance/Comedy/Drama/Mystery/Actioner takes place in six different time periods and runs for 172 minutes (yes, almost three hours, that's why this review is so long). Each time period is fully realized and the story which unfolds for each era is fully developed. You will never be bored, you will rarely be confused and you will always be impressed. The Wachowskis are capable, confident filmmakers and Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") makes a third scriptwriter and director.

"Cloud Atlas" is a tone poem composed by one man and claimed by another; we see them both. Once we understand that, we can relax and play a game to see who can recognize each actor first. The makeup is brilliant, as a result some actors are really hard to spot! My Academy Award money goes on this gang for Art Direction and Makeup.

Here are some of the featured players:
  • Tom Hanks ("Larry Crowne") clearly relishes his chance to be a homicidal thug, an evil doctor, a gentle scientist, a book editor, a rough-hewn tattooed post-apocalyptic primitive, and a hotel clerk, even though it sometimes took a minute to realize that Mr. H was under that amazing makeup.
  • Halle Berry ("New Year's Eve") rarely masks her beauty. The camera loves her no matter which era she is in, with one major exception: her gnarly old Korean man had me completely fooled.
  • Jim Broadbent ("The Iron Lady") brings his comic chops to at least two of his roles: one is an arrogant composer and the other is a dishonest publisher. In four other eras, his makeup and acting were so good it took awhile to figure out who we were watching.
  • Hugo Weaving ("Captain America") seems to be drawn to das- tardly roles. No matter in which time period we spot him, he's still someone to avoid...including his Nurse Ratched, at the old folks' home.
  • Jim Sturgess ("One Day") plays seven roles, not six. One of his characters provides the nicest romance....
  • Keith David ("Highway") brings gravitas and stature to all four of his roles.
  • David Gyasi ("Red Tails") plays only three characters, but they are pivotal. One in particular, while a rifle is aimed at him, is almost unbearable.
  • Hugh Grant ("About a Boy") romps through his six reincarnations with great zest. His spooky ghoul had me fooled; I didn't recognize him until he was (deservedly) getting his throat cut!
  • Doona Bae ("As One") brings her porcelain beauty to a key role: a reluctant voice for future generations. She disappears into her other five, playing other races and other ages.
This is by no means all the important characters or actors. Suffice it to say, you have to pay attention, but you will be rewarded. To me, the fascinating episode with the cast of Asian look-alike women was the most chilling, although I was suitably incensed by the corporate skulduggery that we could tell had taken place in another one.

Expect profanity (Tom Hank's thug!), nudity, blood, racism, gunfire, shocking violence, a wild Star Wars-type ride on a two-seat jet ski that zips through a futuristic sky, swords, knives, tension, some drug use, lots of comedy and a little romance. Whew!
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Here is a link to a trailer:
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