By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B- (3 stars)
Director Craig Gillepse (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night (2011), Million Dollar Arm) and starring Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, Rise of the Guardians) comes a rescue drama based on the true events of the 1952 United States Coast Guard rescue of the SS Pendleton, The Finest Hours, featuring Pine as US Coast Guardsman, Bernie Webber, the man who managed to pull off the US Coast Guard’s most daring sea rescue ever. Surprisingly, besides Saving Mr. Banks, this is probably one of the most grown-up Disney films the studio has ever released, I know they’ve done PG-13 rated movies before those two films and granted it’s not heavily graphic with its intense themes, not to mention they’ve done drama films many times before, dating back to Remember the Titans, but while watching the movie, none of it screamed Disney to me.
It didn’t feel like a corporate monster like Pirates of the Caribbean or Frozen or a “Disneyfied” take on a true story like Cool Runnings or some of their other films based on true stories, this is the kind of movie I’d assume they would release under their Touchstone banner, which is the more adult oriented and darker half of Disney. The movie was an intense, visually impressive, and more mature spectacle that doesn’t rely on Disney gimmicks, it actually reminds me a lot of films like Titanic or The Perfect Storm.
The film follows First Class US Coast Guardsman, Bernie Webber (Pine) of Boatswain’s Mate and his crew aboard the SS Pendleton tanker in 1952, when a massive storm of winter waves and winds break the ship in half, leaving the crew lost at sea, Bernie and the crew of the CG500 life boat and USCGC Yakutat surfboat make it their mission to fight their way through the storm to save the Pendleton’s crew before it sinks.
The movie also stars Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, Gone Baby Gone, Out of the Furnace) as Ray Sybert, Ben Foster (X-Men 3: The Last Stand, 3:10 the Yuma, Lone Survivor) as Seaman Richard Livesey, Holliday Grainger (Bonnie & Clyde, Anna Karenina, Cinderella (2015)) as Miriam Webber, John Ortiz (American Gangster, Public Enemies, Fast & Furious 6) as Seaman Wallace Quirey, and Eric Bana (Black Hawk Down, Star Trek (2009), Hanna) as Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff.
Overall, The Finest Hours is an exciting rescue drama, lots of thrills at sea, impressive special effects, emotion, and decent chemistry by its stars. Though I still prefer Titanic and The Perfect Storm over this movie, because they took their time to develop their characters, I didn’t think a lot of the characters were developed that well in The Finest Hours, which is my main problem with the movie, fortunately it didn’t bring the whole thing down.
What does save the movie is Chris Pine as Bernie, not sure if it’s the most accurate representation of the real man but Pine delivers a well developed character that you want to see rescue his crewmates before they die. Besides Pine, Holliday Grainger is equally engaging as Miriam, the love interest to Bernie who also supports him the best she can, definitely a more serious performance than her stepsister performance in last year’s Cinderella movie.
It doesn’t offer much new things to the rescue drama genre, but if you’re a fan of films like Titanic, The Perfect Storm, Cast Away, or some of those other films, you might enjoy this fine. Don’t expect any Oscar worthy material with this, but if you just want some big, visually impressive 3D popcorn fun, this will be a fine 2 hours of your time.