Zach Davis

Directed By: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Starring: Pål Sverre Valheim Hagan, Anders Bassmo Christiansen, Tobias Santelmann, Gustaf Skarsgård, Odd-Magnus Williamson, Jacob Oftebro, and Agnes Kittelsen

Kon-Tiki is a harrowing tale of survival propelled by an interesting theory from Thor Heyerdahl.  According to Heyerdahl, the Peruvians were the first to colonize Polynesia from the east contrary to the traditional notion that Asians migrating from the west settled on the islands.  Set on a raft similar to what the Peruvians would have used, Kon-Tiki takes place mostly at sea and highlights the trials faced during such a primitive crossing of the largest body of water on Earth.  The cinematography of the movie is really quite good, establishing the crew's isolation on the raft and the danger of their surrounding environment.  However, the film drags at parts because there's very little action, and we really do get a taste of how long and boring the journey would have been.

The story begins with Thor (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagan) developing his theory.  He is exploring the Peruvian Islands and studying the prevailing currents which travel west and not east.  After ten years of research and planning, he's ready to introduce his theory to the world.  However, he is swiftly and resoundingly rejected by every publication and scientific outlet.  Backed into a corner, Thor opts to take drastic action and make the trip across the Pacific himself to prove to the world that it can be done.

Abandoning his wife Liv (Agnes Kittelson) and his two sons, Thor heads to Peru to exhaust his last opportunity to prove his theory.  Joining forces with a navigator by the name of Erik Hesselberg (Odd- Magnus Williamson), a sociologist and steward named Bengt Danielsson (Gustaf Skarsgard), an engineer and refrigerator salesman by the name of Herman Watzinger (Anders Bassmo Christiansen), and radio experts Knut Haugland (Tobias Stantelman) and Torstein Raaby (Jacob Oftebro), Thor builds a raft and sets out for an adventure.

Initially, the expedition does not go as planned.  The raft drifts north away from the prevailing westward current and away from their destination.  With no way to steer the raft, this setback looms heavily over Thor's crew.  Further problems arise when sharks take an interest in the raft and the potential “food” aboard it.  Additionally, the risk of the raft being tipped over becomes a very likely possibility.  On top of all of this, the boat itself, made of balsa wood, is eventually water-logged.  Given this, there's a good chance that the raft will fall apart and sink.  With faith in Thor's wild theory, the men find themselves drifting in the hands of fate against dire circumstances.

Hagan’s performance as Heyerdahl is very impressive.  He really does bring a larger-than-life adventurer to the big screen.  Hagan carries a confidence that borders on mania and ultimately delivers a character with true conviction in his wild theory.  The supporting cast all create a confident following around their leader.  They make us believe that they hold the theory and the mission above all else.  Their seeming conquest of fear and the elements demonstrates a true testament to the men who partake in this voyage.

Kon-Tiki is based on actual events.  There’s no better proof of this than the Academy Award-winning documentary of the same name.  The fact that this all actually took place lends a certain intensity to the film.  Also, it’s worth noting that the documentary is not the only film to get some love from the Academy as Kon-Tiki received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film (Norway) earlier this year.  Regardless, you'll need a couple beers to help get you across the Pacific with this crew because the film drags a bit and feels like Cast Away with a larger cast.  Kon-Tiki gets a 0.06% rating.