‘Swiss Army Man’ is a fantasy about a ship wreck survivor and in short, the quicker you surrender to its charms the more you’ll enjoy it.
If logic flaws are the kind of thing that get under your skin then this film isn’t for you. Why? Because the longer you spend in its company the more this film will subvert your expectations with wilder and wilder leaps of fantasy and barely-played nods to credibility. And that’s it’s magic because when they come, they are both delightful and heart warming.
As a comedy ‘Swiss Army Man’ is a tender, subtle affair. There are no sharp one liners here but touches of gross-out humour which are so deftly delivered that they are as far removed from a Farelly Bros movie as you could ever imagine. If anything it has closer siblings in the forms of the excellent ‘Frank’ or ‘This Must Be The Place’. The comedy here is in the observation; in what isn’t said as opposed to what is.
It has to make sense? Surely it has to? And then it does.
The two leads are perfectly cast. Paul Dano is disarmingly introspective and Daniel Radcliffe is clearly having a ball in the titular role. In fact this role for him has to be about as challenging or as left-field as anything he’s ever attempted in his ever-burgeoning arc away from Harry Potter. Even if the story of the characters leave you cold then you cannot fail to be impressed by the commitment and bravery of the acting on display.
As a whole the film weaves a warm spell, teasing you with ever more bizarre flights of fancy that threaten to lose your interest and then yet still pull you back in. The music and cinematography are all so seamlessly integrated that when the end comes you’ll be glued. It has to make sense? Surely it has to? And then it does. The only question is whether you’ll be there for the satisfying pay-off.
At best ‘Swiss Army Man’ will be a sleeper hit and will probably achieve the true status of a cult classic, in that you’ll either love it for hate it. And in this regard I can at least confirm that you won’t have seen anything like it.
If you want to play safe and have all the jots join up in your shipwreck drama then Tom Hanks and his basketball are waiting for you. However if you want to take a chance and skip the subliminal product placement in favour of a more metaphysical, comedic fantasy then ‘Swiss Army Man’ has plenty of blades for you to try.