Employed as a FedEx systems engineer, Chuck Noland provides combat training to FedEx employees around the world in the hopes they will sort boxes faster. Wearing a pager 24/7, Chuck can be called away to anywhere in the world leaving his girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) with no service guarantee. When Chuck's pager summons him just prior to Christmas, Kelly makes him promise absolutely and positively to be home for New Year's Eve.
Her request seems reasonable until Chuck's FedEx jet crashes into the South Pacific. Although his life is miraculously spared, he finds himself stranded on a small tropical island with little hope of being discovered. Making himself at home in his new surroundings is an incredible challenge considering his only modern tools and implements are the items he finds inside a few FedEx packages that wash ashore--a volleyball, ice skates, videocassettes, and a formal dress.
A few moderate profanities, the intense plane crash, and the realistic image of one of the crew-members' bloated body washing ashore (which Chuck buries after making use of his shoes), are the major content considerations for parents in this excellent tense drama.
A radical departure from other mainstream studio offerings, this movie uses the art of cinema to tell a story; relying on pictures and sound as opposed to wisecracks and voice-overs. Except for Wilson, the volleyball on which Chuck has used his own blood to draw a face, there is no one to converse with. Leaving Hanks as the lone focal point on the screen with little to say, this truly capable actor rises to the demands, demonstrating the strength of the human spirit, right down to the wild look in his eyes after his character has endured four years of solitude. Besides Wilson, Chuck clings to a small picture of Kelly, and a mysterious FedEx box with angel wings painted on it as his sole reasons to survive.
Even more noteworthy is writer William Broyles Jr.'s courage to continue the script after the rescue. For all the physical challenges Chuck faced on the island, his greatest battle will be the emotional test of returning to the world he left behind.