At first, everything seems to be Hollywood business as usual. A story set in an exotic location revolving around a bunch of white people. In fairness, Aloha does have redeeming qualities.
The main setting is in a US military camp so it’s natural for the movie to have haoles in lead roles. The cast is comprised of mainstream Hollywood actors that are actually talented. The movie did make an effort to feature a local – Dennis ‘Bumpy’ Kanahele – that hints at something more compelling that could be explored later on.
There’s a well-known director to steer the ship. After the Garden State 2.0 that is Elizabethtown, maybe Cameron Crowe can return to form that produced Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.
Thanks to the cinematography by Eric Gautier, the lighting gave every frame a certain glow that is beautiful in motion. There’s some nice local soundtrack too.
Unfortunately, as the story progresses, it’s evident that Aloha is an assembly of disparate pieces haphazardly put together.
It has vaguely defined characters. Gilcrest is the generic cynical ass. Ng is a doll of one-note jokes with her quarter Hawaiian heritage as the punch line. Tracy is just there to look pretty and say a few useless lines. Woody is supposed to be taciturn but ends up more like a deaf-mute. Fingers is…just fingers. The rest are non-entities.
Their performances are decent but they’re also trapped in a hackneyed plot that jumps around different narratives, but never settles enough to develop one.
It starts with a typical redemption story. Gilcrest gets a piecemeal assignment after a near-fatal tour in Afghanistan – oversee the blessing of a pedestrian gate – that has an unclear purpose. You won’t know what he’s being redeemed from.
The plot then devolves into a typical love triangle. This involves old flame Tracy (who still cares about him after 13 years of silent treatment) and potential new love in the form of predictable opposite Ng (who is a fighter pilot but doesn’t like weapons in the sky).
While Gilcrest and Ng are trekking around doing stuff and things, the movie throws in some Hawaiian mythology and loony spirituality in the mix. Gilcrest is supposed to be Lono.
As if that’s not enough, there’s also something about a satellite. In the third act, it’s used in a ridiculous climactic moment that ties up other loose threads leading to a tidy ending.
The infamous Sony leaks already confirmed that Aloha is crap in advance, but with a big budget already flushed down the drain, the studio still pushed through.
There are flashes of something here that reminds the audience of the talent involved – an amusing silent exchange between Gilcrest and Woody, Alec Baldwin making a small role into a memorable one, and an odd dance party where the characters resemble people.
Overall, Aloha is too much of a mess to amount to anything.
Aloha has a beautifully shot backdrop and a talented cast in an incoherent plot with forgettable characters.