Whilst always a bit of a fantasist Jim Burke (Peter O'Toole) worked hard and with pride to the rank of executive officer, second in command of a ship. His naval career is temporarily dashed when a broken foot forces him off to convalesce at a hospital and when he is healed he finds the only position is on a ship transporting Muslims to Mecca, a rough ship with an even rougher captain. When the ship hits something during its travel Jim and the crew abandon ship believing the vessel about to sink but when the ship is rescued it leads to Jim being accused of cowardice. After attempting to hide from his past unsuccessfully as his cowardice always catches up with him Jim sets about reinventing himself as a hero taking on the feudal warlord (Eli Wallach) amongst other things.
Occasionally whilst watching a movie I imagine what it must have been like on set, the atmosphere or lack of it. It is a lack of it which I picture whilst watching "Lord Jim" because it lacks atmosphere, personality and energy, having a feel of a movie made by a group of people just doing the job. As such I can picture the movie shoot that even after a difficult scene being completed there being no congratulations, just a call of next scene by a director who just wanted to get the job done.
The thing is that "Lord Jim" doesn't have the look of a cheap movie made for the sake of it; the sets look good as do the costumes and it certainly looks like some attention has been taken when it comes to the locations. But every scene just happens and there is no real energy or spark to draw you in to what is going on in the story. On the subject of which it has to be said that the story feels drawn out with scenes shot which don't move the story forwards just fill time and push the movie to a length which screams this movie must be special when in truth it isn't.
Now I would love to say that Peter O'Toole was the movie's saving grace but whilst there are scenes where O'Toole digs deep to deliver character there are many a scene where it looks like he is just going through the motions, playing it safe. With the movie relying heavily on his performance the sporadic nature of it contributes to why there are many a scene which just fails to grab or hold your attention.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Lord Jim" has the look of an epic adventure movie the end result is far from it and sadly has a feel of a movie where all those involved fell out of love with it.