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Review: The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours
01.27.2016
7 10

PLOT: In 1952, the Coast Guard made an incredible rescue attempt, one that made history. With only a 36-foot lifeboat, Bernie Webber and a small crew set out to rescue a group of thirty something men stranded on a sinking tanker off the coast of Cape Cod in the middle of a massive blizzard. Yes, this is really based on a true story.

REVIEW: THE FINEST HOURS is the latest against the odds tale from Disney. In many ways this is reminiscent of those classic adventure sagas with huge emphasis on a romance, all in the midst of a daring rescue mission. And when I say daring, it is nearly impossible to believe that this really happened. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d find this incredible rescue to be absolutely absurd. How can this tiny 36-foot lifeboat carry 32 men from a sinking ship, as well as the four men already on board? It is truly a fascinating story, and while the film may not be entirely successful, there is some real heart here. So what are the finest moments of THE FINEST HOURS?

This is the story of a rescue mission that took place in 1952 off of Cape Cod after two oil tankers were destroyed. The focus is on Chris Pine, who plays Bernie Webber, the man who takes on a small boat with an even smaller crew to rescue all the men stranded at sea on one of the tankers. With a massive storm tearing apart a huge ship, a group of men including Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) must try and postpone the inevitable with no connection to those on land. Yet thanks to a very lucky set of circumstances, word spreads which ultimately leads to a fiercely dangerous mission that risks every single life involved.

If you’ve watched the trailer, or are familiar with the story, you’ll find that there are few surprises in THE FINEST HOURS. Yet you have to credit director Craig Gillespie for keeping the visuals as sharp as they are. The boat succumbing to the raging storm is an impressive sight. The way he explores the ship and how the men try and keep it afloat is especially thrilling. As the camera quickly moves throughout the vessel with the water pouring in, the ship itself becomes one of the most important characters. And when a tiny little lifeboat manned by Webber and his crew cuts through the waves during the storm, you really can’t take your eyes off of it. I happened to catch the film in IMAX 3D and at times it was absolutely stunning. I was on the edge of my seat.

Yet the thrills come after the romance. When we first meet Bernie, he is about to go on a blind date with a pretty girl in a massive fur coat. The joke here is that a couple people say she looks like a bear. Holliday Grainger portrays Bernie’s love interest Miriam. Pine and Grainger are quite good together, and they give this storybook romance a little bit of charm. They meet, they fall in love, and there is a marriage proposal. However, Miriam is a spunky young woman who isn’t about to wait around for her love to propose. She asks him. Many may find the love story more than a bit corny, and I suppose it is, but for the most part I was engaged in it.

My biggest issue came when the film spent a bit too much time with Miriam while the action at sea should have been the focal point. When you are watching men hanging on for dear life, and then you cut to her sitting in a car that stalled on the side of the road, it is very much an odd choice. Yes Miriam is an important part of the story, but unfortunately it is not nearly as involving as what is happening in the water. This is not to say that the problem lies with Grainger. In fact, she has the perfect mix of vulnerability and strength to make the audience care about her. However, a little less of her and those on land may have helped raise the already high stakes. No offense, but hers is not the character that audiences are going to be wanting to watch.

The highlight here comes in the form of Casey Affleck. The actor gives a fantastic performance as a man facing impossible odds, with very little control of the situation. He is wonderful here. Chris Pine does a nice job as Bernie. Whether he is making puppy dog eyes with Miriam, or desperately trying to sail his boat under severe weather conditions, he is very believable. Other stand outs include the always great Ben Foster, as well as the other two members of Pine’s team, Kyle Gallner and John Magaro. The four actors are all quite good and add a level of humor when necessary. This is a strong cast - with relatively good Boston accents - which helps keep things moving well enough, even when the script gets bogged down with some dopey dialogue.

The Disney real life adventure, THE FINEST HOURS, is a compelling ride. It may take a bit to really get going, but once it does it is a worthwhile journey. Even when they make an unnecessary cut from a thrilling sequence to a bit of dialogue involving Miriam and those on land, it mostly works. Perhaps it is because survival tales that take place in the middle of nowhere hold a special place in my heart, but I enjoyed this feature. If you don’t mind an oddly old fashioned romance, there are a ton of riveting moments to be had. It also helps that the rescue seems so far-fetched, it makes it all the more amazing. It certainly gives you an added respect for the work that the Coast Guard is required to do. There are terrific moments here, but it is a little shy of being great.

 

 

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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