'The Finest Hours'
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Josh Stewart, Holliday Grainger, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
A still from 'The Finest Hours'. Pic/Santa Banta
This Disney film highlights the traditional leitmotif of old-fashioned brave hearts overcoming a stormy petrel to pull off a daring rescue. And it's a true story too. It's based on Casey Sherman and Michael J Tougias' book detailing an incredibly near-impossible rescue, on Feb 18, 1952, of 34 seamen stranded aboard a ship, S.S Pendleton, a T2 oil tanker, split into half by a storm, a ferocious northeaster, off the New England seaboard, by four courageous coastguard rescuers: Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner), and Ervin Maske (John Magaro) in a small motorized boat, a 36 footer, going for broke against the call of duty.
The film has similarities with Warner Bros' 'The Perfect Storm' in that the disaster happens mid-sea in stormy unassailable weather. The nature of peril is similar but the end result is not. The former was a disaster in the truest sense while this one works it's way in towards uplifting.
Director Craig Gillespie, while employing old-fashioned stylized contrivances and sub-plots to give the film an emotional core, also manages to keep it interesting, inserting generous doses of action, suspense and tension. While the rescue itself is above board, the conflict on land and in the Pendleton does appear to be conveniently contrived. The screenplay adaptation by Scott Silver, Paul Tamsay and Eric Johnson, does enough to lend a strong base for the Director's old-fashioned ideal of heroics. There are several heart-in-the-mouth moments that take your breath away and several more peaks and ebbs in the narrative dynamics buffeting the enshrined experience. The treatment is formulaic in that it's designed as a homage to a generation that saw and experienced it all.
The high sea disaster sequences are expertly orchestrated, the water sequences echoing a degree of believability rarely seen on the big screen. The sequence in which Bernie struggles to get his tiny ship over the sandbar is arguably the most thrilling. It's the human drama though that feels a little strained and off-the-track. Bernie's fiancé Miriam (Holliday Grainger) and her pushy involvement in the drama takes away from the excitement just as that of the interpersonal fracas between the crew in the Pendleton. Hollywood stereotypes find reflection here too. But that's pretty much limited damage. Chris Pine's Bernie is awkward just as Casey Affleck's Ray (Chief Engineer onboard Pendleton) is alienated and because of which both men rise to the occasion and become heroes in our hearts and mind. There's nothing like faulty human beings rising to the occasion when the chips are down, to warm the cockles of your heart. The overall experience here is one of affected awe and that's more than we get from big-budget spectacles!
Watch the trailer of 'The Finest Hours'