Friday, January 29
REVIEW: The Finest Hours
Directed by Craig Gillespie
1 hour 57 minutes
I just spent two of the finest hours I've had all week at the movies. Rescue plots just excite the hell out of me and it's always effortless to immerse myself in stories of real-life heroism. Usually short on character development (my only real complaint here), one is swept away by the bravery and execution and thrills, always wondering how it's all going to turn out. No spoilers here.
This is based on a true story that occurred in the winter of 1952. Off the coast of Nantucket in one of the worst storms to ever hit the area, two tankers are ripped in half and four reluctant members of the Coast Guard are sent out in the dark to do what they can to rescue the men on board before it's too late.
Chris Pine plays the leader of the rescue team. What little bit of personal information we get about him is mainly shown through his relationship with a new girlfriend, played by Holliday Grainger. Eric Bana is the head man, new to the area and not trusted by his men. Ben Foster plays one of the four sent into harm's way. Casey Affleck is the eventual leader of the remaining crew of the tanker torn in half. The film, of course, divides its time between the rescuers and those on the ship, hoping to stay afloat.
It doesn't take long to get into the action sequences and while they never let up until the finale, there are bits and pieces of stories on land, mostly involving the adorable Grainger. No short shrift is given to those brave women on shore and the efforts they make to shine a light on the men they love.
It appeared to me that all technical credits were on-the-mark, but I have to single out Carter Burwell's compelling musical score. It is something to behold. It's not difficult to imagine how different a film this would have been without music... and this music should help keep you wide-eyed.
This was obviously a big project for director Gillespie. I have seen two of the few films he has directed, Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Fright Night (2011), not exact copies, and here's still another genre for his resume.
The acting was what it needed to be although I would say the best job was turned in by Grainger, oddly a character not in the main action. One would be hard-pressed to see a better performance of a loving but worried partner. Affleck got my attention as well but his character as written was one of those that provided little insight as to who he was. Had we known more, it would have heightened the drama. Bana properly conveyed a man at odds with his position. Foster wasn't given much to do. I've never seen him so calm. And Pine... well, he's always interesting to me. His character is pretty level-headed and as such there's no display of histrionics which often leads critics like me to unload our finest adjectives. Still, one can't go too wrong watching him for two hours.
When I first saw the previews for this film, I immediately thought of the 2000 George Clooney-Mark Wahlberg film, The Perfect Storm. I hate to sound like a girlyman, but that film rather terrified me... not enough to keep me out of this one but still, I wondered. If you might be one to have the same concerns, let me get you some warm milk, pat your hand and assure you this one isn't that wild. It could have been but it wasn't.
Bravo to Disney. You folks do know how to entertain.