Based on a true story, three US Navy airmen are forced to ditch their torpedo bomber in the South Pacific during World War II. They then find themselves on a tiny life raft, surrounded by open ocean. With no food, water and little hope of rescue they drift across the ocean. Against incredible odds, these three virtual strangers survive storms, sharks, starvation and each other as they try to sail more than a thousand miles to safety.Garret Dillahunt as pilot Harold Dixon
Tom Felton as bombardier Tony Pastula
Jake Abel as radioman Gene Aldrich
Nadia Parra as Frances (Tony's sister)
Quinton Flynn as Newsreel narrator
On January 16, 1942, aviation chief machinist's mate and pilot Harold Dixon (aged 42, from La Mesa, California), radioman Gene Aldrich (aged 22 from Sikeston, Missouri) and bombardier Anthony Pastula (aged 24 of Youngstown, Ohio) took off from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in a Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bomber. As part of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6 they were to undertake an anti-submarine sweep over the Pacific Ocean. Once airborne they were to maintain radio silence to safeguard the carrier being detected by the Japanese.
Their aircraft lost position and was unable to return to the carrier. Running low on fuel Dixon ditched the aircraft in the sea. The aircraft sank quickly taking most of the crew's survival equipment with it. The men inflated the small rubber life raft and climbed inside. Surviving on rainwater and meager rations the men drifted for 34 days and travelled over 1,000 miles, before landing on the Pukapuka atoll, a friendly island. The crew were picked up a week later by a seaplane from the USS Swan.
For his endeavors to keep his crew alive Dixon was awarded the Navy Cross. The citation read "...for extreme heroism, exceptional determination, resourcefulness, skilled seamanship, excellent judgment and highest quality of leadership". Pastula and Aldrich both received presidential commendations for their "extraordinary courage, fortitude, strength of character and exceptional endurance".
The life raft the men used is on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Dixon died on June 26, 1987 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Pastula died on October 19, 1982 and is buried in Ohio. Aldrich died of cancer on March 27, 1973 in San Diego.
The film had a premiere at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 23, 2014. The film was released to video on demand on January 23, 2015. It was also played at the Arena Theater in Los Angeles.
The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 67% based on 9 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. On Metacritic, the film had score of 43 out of 100, based on 5 reviews.
The Los Angeles Times said the film was admirable but compared it unfavorably to Angelina Jolie's film Unbroken which had been released a month before.