“The Finest Hours” is a film adaptation of the book with the same title by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias. The bestseller of these acclaimed journalists is based on the rescue mission led by Bernie Webber, an American coast guard who, together with his team (Andrew Fitzgerald, Richard Livesey and Ervin Maske) saved the crew of the T2 tanker SS Pendleton. This tanker broke in two during a huge storm on February 18, 1952, south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 32 of the 33 men who were in the back half of the tanker could be saved (the crew who were in the front half when the tanker broke in half, drowned). Horrible and bizarre fact: it wasn’t the only tanker that broke in two that night. 32 kilometers away the Fort Mercer happened the same.
Chris Pine plays Webber with style. His character is quite upset 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 for permission to marry his boss. Pine is cut out for this role, contrary to what you would expect from such a heroic figure, he is not the tough guy who makes the impossible possible with death in mind. On the contrary, he is a thoughtful, modest man, who seeks out his own limits based on a deep-rooted sense of “doing what he is told to do. Eric Bana still has a thankless role as Webber’s inexperienced boss, who clearly does not appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
Meanwhile, we also see the events on the unfortunate tanker. Casey Affleck plays Ray Sybert, a technician who is rather independent. He plays a crucial role in saving his colleagues, but that costs him some persuasiveness. Most of the crew members don’t want anything from him, so his unorthodox proposal – which of course turns out to work – to keep the tanker from sinking is initially received with scorn.
The acting work of these two gentlemen, together with the action scenes, which are beautifully and nailily excitingly portrayed, are the strongest points of ‘The Finest Hours’. When the waves crash against the boat, you almost feel as if you are almost wrecking yourself. The romantic subplot does not add that much to the story and occasionally the pace drops a bit. “The Finest Hours” is seriously lacking as a drama, as a spectacle / disaster / survival film, the film is excellent.
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