The film opens with Lieutenant Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) dressed in uniform and entering a court hearing. As part of his trial, the Lieutenant shares his recent experience as the captain of a large ship called ‘The Bounty’. Lieutenant Bligh’s comments reveal that he was booted off ‘The Bounty’ after being overrun by his fellow crew and his second in charge, Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson).
We go back in time and witness where it all began to help us better understand Lieutenant Bligh’s journey. ‘The Bounty’ was on an expedition to Tahiti to collect breadfruit pods and transport them back to England. To help on this mission, Lieutenant Bligh requests the support of one of his close, long-term friends, Fletcher. Fletcher is honoured and grateful for the opportunity and accepts. Soon the ship and its crew set sail, and everything seems to be going to plan until tension among the ship’s leaders grows. Disagreements among the crew grow and fester into something more challenging, impacting the task and the entire crew.
The Bounty is best described as a drama that many claim displays the most accurate representation of a mutiny. It’s also a slow-burning drama where we see the tight bond and friendship between people becoming rocky, tense, and dramatic, particularly between Lieutenant Bligh and Fletcher. As viewers, you’ll find yourself curious about what happened on this ship. Is Lieutenant Bligh telling the truth, or is he lying to save his skin and flesh? As the film progresses, the characters grow and change in personality significantly, leading to unexpected and unpredictable outcomes.
The leading performances here from both Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson are excellent. Both actors shine strongly and leave a lasting impression. Scenes in which the characters try to argue or express their point of view are well-acted and commanding on the screen. Even despite poor choices from various characters, viewers are still invested in discovering what will happen next and are eager to see the consequences for each character and the ship. The soundtrack from artist Vangelis is highly effective at creating an unsettling atmosphere, but sadly, it is somewhat repetitive. The costume work here is excellent, and the location, landscapes, and ‘The Bounty’ ship shines strongly in this film. The second act’s pacing is slow, but the film begins and ends beautifully.
Overall, The Bounty is a dramatic story about friendship, poor choices, friction, and trust. Performances from Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson are impressive, and this film stands firmly as an accurate depiction of mutiny which is incredible to witness. The costume work here is excellent, along with the locations, and the ship’s look is stunning. The score by Vangelis is deeply effective but repetitive, and the film’s second act drags on. Still, the opening and finale are touching, engaging, and the entire movie leaves a lasting experience.