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The Finest Hours (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours


Starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro, Beau Knapp, Eric Bana, Graham McTavish, Abraham Benrubi and Michael Raymond James.

Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamsay & Eric Johnson.

Directed by Craig Gillespie.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.  116 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

The Finest Hours is based on a true story, and yet it never quite feels true.  Not that it is too horrific to be real, though it has some very scary moments.  On the contrary, the main thrust of the film I could buy pretty easily.  It is the world of the movie that feels a little off – and more than a little romanticized.

The Finest Hours appears to take place in this long ago black and white Burma Shave world that probably never existed (even though the film is in color).  It is a world where men were square-jawed and brave, where women were sweet, loving and subservient, where life in an entire coastal town could revolve around whether or not twenty sailors that they have never met be saved in one of the annual devastating storms that wrack the coastline.

It was rather clever to make this film a period piece, circa the early 1950s, it makes the storyline make a lot more sense.  The way the characters act, though, seems a bit unlikely, like they are characters in an old movie, not real people.

I’m not going to lie, the coming attractions for this film reminded my a tiny bit too much of the overrated film The Perfect Storm.  I always had a bit of a problem of that testosterone-fueled man-made disaster – if a ship’s crew is dumb enough to go out specifically when a monster storm is coming, is it worth the lives of the rescuers who have to go out and try to save them?

In fairness, The Finest Hours is a much better film than that one was.  Also, this film looks at the situation from the point of view of the brave men going out to save the crippled ship, though much of the film also takes place on the damaged ship as the crew fights to stay alive until (or rather, if) help comes to save them.

Also, this wasn’t a local fishing crew that decided it would be fun to go out in a Nor’Easter.  This was a commercial vessel on a long haul, the storm came up when they were already at sea, this was not something they could avoid, per se.

During a horrific Maine storm, the Pendleton was literally split in half by the violent seas.  The shot of half of the ship turning around in the surf and promptly sinking while the other half somehow manages to continue floating, without a front or any navigation equipment, undoubted was true, but it is also just a bit hard to buy.

Back in the town, most of the Coast Guard is already dispatched to save another ship that also has been split.  Therefore a small group of local guardsmen, led by Bernie (Pine), a smart and worthy seaman who still was a bit gun shy when his unsuccessful attempt to save a ship in the past year’s storm cost the lives of some of his co-workers.

The whole town, particularly Miriam (Granger), Bernie’s adorable kewpie doll of a girlfriend (they just got engaged the day before) sit on egg-shells and wait to see if Bernie and his brave men can rescue the boat, using the exact same course as had been deadly the year before.  And that was before the storm washed their compass off to sea.

In the meantime, a lowly and unliked worker on the Pendleton (Casey Affleck) must get his men together to somehow beach the ship on a sand bar to give them any time for a rescue force to find them.

It’s all smart and overwhelming adventure, occasionally a bit pat – it was awfully hard to believe no one other than Miriam thought of a way to help the ship find land in the middle of a blackout – but it was a rousing adventure.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: May 24, 2016.

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