Movie Review - The Finest Hours

This film tells the story of the 1952 rescue of a group of men who were trapped on board an oil tanker that became severely damaged and adrift at sea. The movie competently shows what happened and what the men experienced or had to do to survive. Yet, Disney produced the movie and for the entire time, it feels very Disney. Sometimes, Disney can be edgy for its animated films or go to dark places. The stakes can feel harrowing in some of its animations, but none of that is present here. Pun-intended, this movie feels watered-down. It doesn't help that the movie starts and proceeds on a stupid note.

Chris Pine (Star Trek and Into the Woods) stars as Bernie Webber, a member of the Coast Guard stationed in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, which is a town located in the middle of Cape Cod. He seems like a capable sailor, but he's also extremely nervous and shy about meeting and talking to a girl. Holliday Grainger co-stars as Miriam, the future wife of Bernie, but when she encounters him for the first time in 1951, she's the one who has to disarm and charm him. She's even the one who asks him to marry.

Traditionally, men asked women to marry. For Miriam to be the one to ask is proof that she's a bit progressive, although secretly there were probably tons of women who proposed to men, even in the 1950's. She maybe isn't an outlier, but she's either smart or just forward.

What makes the moment interesting is that Bernie says no. He turns her down. She changes his mind, but not before he expresses that being a sailor's wife isn't going to be easy. She seems to understand what he means and why he's hesitant. She doesn't ask him to switch careers.

However, when the oil tanker gets into trouble and Bernie is ordered to go out into the storm and the dangerous situation, then all of a sudden Miriam gets indignant. For the rest of the film, she looks so naive and stupid, as if she completely didn't realize what she was doing when she attached herself to this man who did somewhat warn her. What she does in this movie is tantamount to telling and yelling at a fire chief for sending firefighters into a burning building to save the people inside. It's what first responders and military members are there to do.

It's not to say that she can't worry and be sad that her future husband is being put in harm's way, but her behavior smacks of her being so stupid that she doesn't see who he is and what he does. No one, at any point, even talks to her or tries to communicate that the men on the oil tanker have loved ones too. It's extremely selfish.

Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone and The Assassination of Jesse James) also stars as Ray Sybert, an engineer on the oil tanker who takes a strong leadership role once the tanker becomes damaged and starts to sink. There is some drama among the trapped men about if Ray should take that role or not. Ultimately, he does and the rest of the film are the mechanics and the process by which the men keep the tanker afloat until help arrives.

Those mechanics and the process can be interesting, but the screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, based on the book by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, never really allows us to get to know much of those men on the tanker, except Ray. Directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl and Fright Night), the camera lingers on men like Tiny, played by Abraham Benrubi (ER), and Eldon, played by Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash), but Gillespie never wants to spend quality time with them to understand them more fully. Instead, Gillespie would rather waste time with Miriam's selfishness.

There's also this dilemma that is presented in the last act of this film. It's an interesting dilemma. Once Bernie braves the treacherous waters to reach the oil tanker, the lifeboats have been destroyed and there are 32 men who need help but Bernie only has room for half that number. Now, this could have been a dilemma that could have yielded drama on the level of James Cameron's Titantic, but the filmmakers here really do nothing with it. It's an issue for all of a second, and then it's dismissed.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 57 mins.


Popular Posts