The Finest Hours
Starring Chris Pine, Holliday Grainger, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana,
Expectations have to be adjusted anytime Disney delivers a “based on a true story”, much like their sports movie department, “The Finest Hours” intends to promote unsung heroes. My biggest advice is to avoid the 3D option for “The Finest Hours”, already much of the film is shot in the dark of night covered further with waves, so the dark glasses make it worse. For those who understand water navigation, the terms used may not be an issue, however I found lots of the technical terms dealing with boats and water navigation muddy and unexplained. I have no doubt the brave, four-man Coast Guard crew pulled off an extraordinary rescue, yet what director Craig Gillespie puts on screen seems to defy all believable logic, as least what we can see of it.
The winter of 1952 culminated in a monster storm slamming northeast coast, especially the shipping town of Chatham, Massachusetts. After the coast guard sends men out to rescue the crew on the sinking tanker, a second tanker is broken in two. Shy Bernie Webber (Pine) and three others men are assigned to rescue the crew of the SS Pendleton. Warned by experienced boatmen, not to venture out into the 50 foot waves and zero visibility, Webber, a man of devout duty powers up the 36-foot lifeboat and heads directly into the storm. On the sinking SS Pendleton, Ray Sybert (Affleck) is using every bit of knowledge and intuition to try and keep the remaining 32 seamen alive, but they fear no one is even looking for them.
Most of the characters are one sentence away from “aw, shucks”, dialogue, as the script maintains the family friendly audience aim.
“The bar”, is referred to countless times by the coast guard crew, yet it’s never explained. Common sense tells me it has something to do with the inlet that shields the tiny town of Chatham, but confirmation is never provided. The script has three writers working with the story written by two men, and still the film lacks information. “The Finest Hours” opens egregiously with Pine (“Star Trek”), playing against type, trying to woo his future fiancée Miriam (Grainger). While the love story adds a third plot line to the film, at least gives us one female character in the otherwise male dominated rescue mission, there really isn’t much for the future Mrs. Webber to do besides run her car into a snow ditch. The best scene of the film occurs between Grainger and Bana who butt heads over authority.
Most of the characters are one sentence away from “aw, shucks”, dialogue, as the script maintains the family friendly audience aim. The development of Webber’s character all takes place in the slow paced opening, while the rest of the film is just famous and talented actors like Foster and Affleck putting faces to names, holding on for dear life. What I reject as a viewer is the difficulty and unbelievable nature of this little Motor Lifeboat CG 36500, which at various times goes completely underwater, entirely submerged, with its crew just hanging on and clearly holding their breath, only to bounce back up and continue out to sea. The filmmakers deal in exaggeration, hoping their audience won’t question the images since the “based on a true story” title card is used in the beginning.
Dilutes historical heroism by exaggerating mechanical capabilities and skipping important details.