Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Eric Bans, Holiday Grainger
Disney's new film The Finest Hours has perhaps been released at the wrong time. It lands here smack in the midst of Oscar season, when several worthies who are vying for prizes, are being screened here. We had The Danish Girl, Joy and Room in the weeks just past, and Carol should be coming up in a little while,not to mention Spotlight. In such august company, a film that might just have worked as one of those summer blockbusters, flounders.
The most incredible thing about The Finest Hours is that it is based on a true story, of one of the most daring rescue operations carried out in a small boat in the US. We're taken back to this inspiring tale (which has also been chronicled in a book of the same name, on which the script is based) through the means of two heroes -- Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) who works with the Us coast guard, and is haunted by the memories of some fishermen who died in a storm when he couldn't pull off a rescue mission, and Ray Seabert (Casey Affleck) who has spent more time in the bowels of the engine room of the ship he is serving on, rather than in any human being's company.
After some focus on the developing romance between Bernie and a pushy, pretty young woman called Miriam (Holiday Grainger) we get into the actual story: A great storm is brewing off the coast, when it hits the high sea, the ship that Seabert is travelling in -- the SS Pendleton -- is split right down the middle. Even as the other half sinks with all the commanding officers in board, Seabert works desperately to find some way to keep his half of the broken ship afloat, until help can reach them.
In a freak accident, another tanker has met with the same fate, so the Coast Guard has deployed most of their forces and boats to rescue those seamen. Will anyone reach the Pendleton in the little time that it has before it hits the seabed?
Told by his commanding officer (Eric Bana) to take a small team and attempt a nearly impossible rescue mission, Bernie knows that this is perhaps his one chance to lay the ghosts of the past to rest. So off he goes, battling wave after thundering wave, conditions so fierce that no man in his sane mind would continue in them. But does he reach the imperiled folks on the Pendleton in time? Is he able to save even a single one of them?
Well you'll have to see the film to find out -- as long as you don't suffer from seasickness that it. The storm and the raging ocean have been shown as fierce things -- as indeed they are -- in the film, and us landlubbers will truly get a chance to see the dangers those who make their life on the sea confront. The sinking ship may not have the grandeur of a Titanic, but its businesslike hulk being ripped apart by the sheer force of water is a fearsome sight nonetheless. It's fascinating -- and the best part about the film.
The rest unfortunately is quite banal. Casey Affleck is competent enough in his role, and Chris Pine has some good moments. But for some strange reason (I am not aware if the real Bernie Webber was also supposed to be this way, in which case the actor is not at fault) Pine plays the character with these odd, almost Aspergers-like tics. Sure, Bernie might have been a stoic, taciturn man but Pine plays him with a kind of emotional stuntedness -- maybe a consequence of trying too hard to put his chocolate boy actor image behind him. Holiday Grainger is somewhat irritating, and the whole “offshore” drama that is taking place while the men are in the water seems like a distraction.
There isn't much that's unpredictable about The Finest Hours, except for when our heroes will be deluged with the next mighty wave. For the thrill of that alone, you might consider giving this a watch....