Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Kyle Gallner
Written by: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, (based on the book) Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias
Running Time: 117 mins
Release date: 19th February 2016
It seems that Disney are getting into a pattern when it comes to their movie output. Start off with a slow burner to begin the year with, follow it with a remake of a cartoon and then let the Marvel/Pixar/Star Wars films take the big bucks. Last year we had The Million Dollar Arm, followed by Cinderella then The Avengers took over. This year we have a remake of The Jungle Book coming next, with a Disney animation, Zootropolis leading into Captain America: Civil War. But before all that can happen, we have The Finest Hours, a Disney variation on the disaster movie directed by the man who gave us The Million Dollar Arm.
1952 and a huge storm has hit the coast of Cape Cod. Two oil tankers have had the same fate, being split into two. With a crew still aboard one half, the coast guard send a boat out to the other accident, while the crew try to give themselves enough time in the hope they can be saved. Bernie Webber has been given the task of going out to this ship, with a crew of four on a boat that can only hold 12, while battling seas that could kill them. What they do is extraordinary.
Based on a true story, this is a far more impressive feature than I was expecting. Starting off small and intimate, focusing mainly on the growing relationship between Webber and Miriam, it starts to build in stature when we see this mammoth oil tankard ripped in half with the captain section sinking in nightmarish seas. The film then starts to build the tension as this small, virtually inexperienced crew from the coast guard are sent on the suicide mission to find this stricken craft, while at the same time we see how this ragtag team of engineers manage to pull together in the vain hope they will be saved.
Director Craig Gillespie does a sterling job with the sequences out at sea. Very reminiscent to The Perfect Storm, we follow this small craft as it literally dives into giant waves, throwing the four men around like toys, then losing their compass so Webber has to use his knowledge of the sea to guide him. It’s all very melodramatic, all very Hollywood, yet for its running time, it works surprisingly well.
You do find yourself drawn into this world. You do want this crew to be saved and you do want this small boat to define the odds. So there are moments when you are given the full Hollywood, over-blown treatment and there are many moments which leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. However, it is a pleasant, non-offensive little adventure that manages to entertain throughout.
The performances are fine from the solid cast. Chris Pine is a decent leading man while Casey Affleck (in his second film out this week) does a good job as the unsung hero of the stricken liner. British actress Holliday Grainger gives her character of Miriam some unexpected strength for someone living in the 50s and the always reliable Ben Foster delivers another slightly off-the-wall performances as Webber’s reluctant crew mate.
The Finest Hours isn’t the greatest boating movie of all time but after weeks of top-notch award winners, being replaced by the somewhat shabby and disappointing, it’s nice and refreshing to sit through a film with likeable characters you don’t mind spending time with, doing daring-dos, even if they are glorified to the point of ridiculousness. In truth, this is a very pleasant, distracting adventure.