Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Finest Hours

Year: 2016
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro, Graham McTavish

Plot: Based on the true story of how four Coast Guard seamen miraculously rescued 32 crew members of the SS Pendleton during a massive storm on February 18th 1952.

Review: The Finest Hours follows in the footsteps of a handful of disaster films based on true stories that we have seen over the years, such as Apollo 13, the excellent The Impossible and the recent Everest. In fact, The Finest Hours is almost similar to another such film, The Perfect Storm, but much better.

The story goes like this: In 1952, the SS Pendleton, a ship caught in a storm 10 miles off the coast of Chatham, Massachusetts, gets ripped in half by huge waves. The surviving crew, led by chief engineer Mr Sybert, try their best to run the ship aground while hoping the Coast Guard will rescue them in time. Meanwhile, Coast Guard seaman Bernie Webber is sent out with three others to save the Pendleton crew, despite the fact that the huge storm would most likely kill them first.

Director Craig Gillespie centres his film on two men: Bernie and Sybert. What's most interesting about these two is the fact that they aren't the typical heroic guys we see in most American films about heroism. Sure, they are regular joes but what's fascinating is that neither of them was born to be a leader, and yet they rise to the occasion in face of insurmountable odds. This, added to some great CGI work (especially in creating huge tidal waves) and some solid acting from the cast, elevates The Finest Hours above the average disaster film viewers would come to expect.

Chris Pine is pretty good here, playing Bernie as someone who is a direct opposite to Captain Kirk. Kirk is brash and confident, but Pine's Bernie is anything but. He's a guy who would follow orders despite them not being logical ones, and is unsure of himself in front of his lady love, Miriam. Pine is convincing indeed and he makes the viewers root for him easily. Casey Affleck is equally good as Sybert, the engineer who isn't the most popular guy among the ill-fated crew of the Pendleton, but reluctantly takes on the role of leader in order to save his men. Affleck proves yet again that he's a better actor than his big brother. Also worth mentioning are Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner and John Magaro as Bernie's crew, as well as Holliday Grainger as Bernie's fiancee Miriam.

While Gillespie keeps his film tightly paced for the most part, it does lose its momentum every now and then, thanks to the story moving away from the sea to Miriam and the people of Chatham waiting anxiously for news of their family. Some of these scenes could have been edited a bit, though on the flipside it does add some layers to Bernie's past concerning a ship he had failed to save. 

On the whole, The Finest Hours is a great addition to the true disaster genre, and it turned out better than I thought it would. It's definitely worth checking out. (8/10)

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