Swiss Army Man is nuts and I love it for being so weird and unique.
Hank (Paul Dano) is a desperate man stranded on a deserted island. Moments before killing himself, he sees someone wash ashore. Unfortunately, he’s dead. Soon he discovers that the dead man is his ticket off the island and back home. The adventure that follows is one I’ve never seen before.
This is a love it or hate it movie, I don’t think there is a middle ground. If you don’t buy into the premise of how Hank gets off the island, you won’t like the movie. Discovering and using the different ways that Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) can be used as a tool of survival is always crazy and surreal. I bought in from the human jet ski and laughed my ass off through all the major gags.
Swiss Army Man is mostly a story about friendship and being weird. Hank is weird dude. Plus, he’s nuts because he has conversations with a corpse.
This movie works because of Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. It’s just the two of them for 99% of the movie. Dano makes Hank immediately likable even though he is a guy who’s uncomfortable in his own skin. He’s a deeply troubled guy and I enjoyed finding out more about him. Daniel is simply brilliant, playing a role that’s really the inner hidden voice of Hank. You find out so much about Hank through their conversations, things that Hank didn’t even mean to let out, but Manny reflects them back to him. Plus, Manny isn’t a zombie so he can’t move on his own. Radcliffe is vastly restricted in his performance on what he can do but he nails this bizarre childlike (he doesn’t remember anything about life) character with essentially just his face and line delivery. Without these two I don’t think the movie would have worked.
It’s a brilliantly made film. The runtime is perfect with excellent pacing, it looks fantastic and there are a lot of great in-camera special effects. There isn’t a wasted line of dialog and I even like the end. It’s such a unique story and presentation that it really took me by surprise. A refreshing movie to see when most of Holywood is doing their best to copy whatever the flavor of the year is.