Film Review “The Finest Hours”

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First, the Recap:

There are those who say they would give their lives for a loved one: brother to sister, husband to wife, friend to friend. Yet, there are also those who make the choice not only to put their lives on the line for those they’re closest to, but also for those who are complete strangers in need to rescue or assistance. It is late in the year 1951, November to be exact, in Chatham, MA and Coast Guard crewman Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) is embarking on a dangerous mission–to meet a girl, Miriam (Holliday Grainger), with whom he’s been set up with by good friend and fellow crewman, Mel (Beau Knapp). Life would seem to be settling in as Webber falls for Miriam and they get engaged.

Several months later, however, a massive winter storm strikes the region, and the T2 oil tanker S.S. Pendleton, caught in a nor’easter, experiences a devastating hull breach which splits the ship in half. With veteran crewman and engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) ultimately assuming control of the crew, they begin a desperate bid to keep the half ship afloat until aid can arrive. Back in Chatham, the new USCG base commander, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), orders Bernie to put together a crew and make an attempt to rescue the fallen vessel’s sailors. Battling just to clear the coastline break, Bernie and his crew of three fight monstrous waves, chilling temperatures, and inadequate boat space to save the tanker’s 30 souls.

Next, my Mind:

Based on true events and on the novel by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, Disney Studios once again brings to light a story of bravery, human fortitude, and genuine gravitas as only the Mouse House can deliver. Thanks to the solid direction of Craig Gillespie, the film sails along smoothly and with harrowing visual precision in telling this amazing and inspiring tale of the USCG crewmen who voluntarily risked their lives in order to face seas of enormously volatile magnitude during the blizzard conditions that had whipped it into a fury, which not only wrecked the S.S. Pendleton, but another tanker in the area as well. The sheer weight of the situation from both the perspectives of Webber and Sybert showcases the mettle, endurance, and grit these two leaders had in the shadow of daunting odds.

Pine brings out the “everyman” persona he does so effectively in previous efforts for this performance as well, imbuing Webber with an almost shy sense of honor and loyalty to friends and Miriam, while also illustrating a determined steadfastness and resolve to not let a crippled ship’s crew be lost, no matter what the cost, and pushing back against the doubting opinions of others. Similarly, Affleck’s Sybert is shown as a quietly simple man who gets the chance to shine and stand stronger than he ever has in the face of total disaster, a panicked crew, and the knowledge he’s accumulated over his long turns at sea. Putting it all to good use, he becomes the true backbone for hope to remain alive amongst the tanker’s men. Grainger is adorable as the innocent yet dogged Miriam who refuses to give up on her fiancé, and Bana provides equally solid presence as Cluff.

Great supporting turns by Ben Foster, John Ortiz, Graham McTavish, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro and others help to anchor the story as well. Overall, “The Finest Hours” successfully provides what this style of true story-based film should–the superb combination of heart, pathos, heroism, the conquering of fear, the victory of spirit, and the reward of perseverance.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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