Ambition can count for a lot, and it can count for very little. Anyone can have an ambitious thought, develop it into an ambitious concept, but only the brave see their ambitions through. And only the talented do so with success. Cloud Atlas is an ambitious film in that it tells six stories, separated in time and place (even worlds), yet connected in spiritual ways, and by important similarities in the content of their narratives. These are ambitious thoughts, spun into a web of a concept by author David Mitchell, adapted (ambitiously) by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski in a largely workmanlike manner, despite the talent that might have turned it into a successful film, the talent that is evident from (some of) their previous works. They seem more interested in merely getting through the masses of plot necessary to communicate the story's central themes than in crafting a film of grace and style, as it so often screams out to be. The visuals are flat, the screenplay provides little nourishment for each actor in their individual roles (all the principal cast members take on several roles apiece), the fortunes of Cloud Atlas are balanced almost solely on Mitchell's contribution, and the directors' cinematic interpretation of its developments and its key meanings. This all works, thankfully, but I only occasionally felt as stirred as I would have liked to have been, and as I think I was expected to. All of the stories save one (An Orison of Sonmi-451) lack in momentum at one point or another, with a few even rather redundant on the whole, and, although the essential idea of spiritual connection between people over time and space is articulated very neatly, the casting gimmick is frequently used as more of a sly quirk for our fleeting delectation than as an expression of anything especially psychologically satisfying. Yet that ambition...it still counts for quite a lot: I was not bored once (for most of three hours!), and, even at its most underwhelming, Cloud Atlas is never actually bad. It's just not actually that good either.