Review: The Finest Hours (2016)

The Finest Hours (2016)

Directed by: Craig Gillespie | 117 minutes | action, drama, history | Actors: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro, Graham McTavish, Michael Raymond-James, Beau Knapp, Josh Stewart, Abraham Benrubi, Keiynan Lonsdale, Rachel Brosnahan, Benjamin Koldyke, Matthew Maher, Jesse Gabbard, Alexander Cook

‘The Finest Hours’ is a film adaptation of the book of the same title by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias. The bestseller from these acclaimed journalists is based on the rescue mission led by Bernie Webber, a US Coast Guard who along with his team (Andrew Fitzgerald, Richard Livesey and Ervin Maske) rescued the crew of the T2 tanker SS Pendleton. This tanker broke in two during a massive storm on February 18, 1952, south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 32 of the 33 men in the rear half of the tanker were rescued (the crew in the forward half when the tanker broke in half drowned). Horrifying and bizarre fact: It wasn’t the only tanker to break in two that night. The same thing happened to Fort Mercer 20 miles away.

Chris Pine plays Webber with style. His character is quite the rules and that goes so far that he initially refuses the marriage proposal of his charming and energetic girlfriend Miriam (Holliday Grainger), because he first wants to ask official permission to marry his boss. Pine is perfect for this role, contrary to what you would expect from such a heroic figure, he is not the tough guy who can achieve the impossible with death in mind. On the contrary, he is a thoughtful, modest man, who pushes his own limits from a deep-seated sense of ‘doing what he is told to do’. Eric Bana has another thankless role as Webber’s inexperienced boss, who clearly does not appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Meanwhile, we also see the events on the unfortunate tanker. Casey Affleck plays Ray Sybert, a technician who tends to keep to himself. He plays a vital role in rescuing his colleagues, but that takes some persuasion. Most of the crew members don’t like him, so his unorthodox proposal – which of course turns out to work – not to sink the tanker is initially met with jeering.

The acting of these two gentlemen, together with the action scenes, which are beautifully and nail-bitingly exciting, is the strongest point of ‘The Finest Hours’. When the waves crash against the boat, you almost feel as if you yourself are almost shipwrecked. The romantic subplot doesn’t add much to the story and every now and then the pace drops a bit. As a drama ‘The Finest Hours’ falls seriously short, as a spectacle/disaster/survival film the film is fine.

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