The Finest Hours

"Excellent"

The Finest Hours Review


With its rousing, old-fashioned tone, this fact-based epic is properly thrilling and inspirational, a tale of heroism that almost seems too good to be true. But it's the astonishing story of a real sea rescue carried out by ordinary men who rose to the challenge. It's also expertly directed by Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm) to bring out subtle character detail amid the exhilarating action.

The events took place in a sleepy Massachusetts fishing town in the dead of winter 1952, where Bernie (Chris Pine) is an earnest Coast Guard sailor who has just agreed to marry his strong-willed sweetheart Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Then one night a fierce storm breaks an oil tanker in half just off the coast, and Bernie is sent by his aloof commander Daniel (Eric Bana) to lead a rescue mission. He takes his colleague Richard (Ben Foster) and two young crewmen (Kyle Gallner and John Magaro) with him, heading into the dangerous sea swells. Meanwhile on the tanker's still-floating stern section, engineer Ray (Casey Affleck) becomes the leader of a cantankerous 32-man crew, steering the wreckage toward the relative safety of a shoal. And in these conditions, the odds are in nobody's favour.

Unusually, despite pitch-black conditions with driving rain and swelling seas, the on-screen action is crisp and clear. Gillespie uses vivid effects and clever camerawork to keep the audience right in the thick of things, conveying a vivid sense of scale while detailing the connections between each string of events. And because we understand what's happening and who these people are, the set-pieces are literally breathtaking. This is partially due to the fact that these are normal people who are very easy to identify with, from Pine's inarticulate but tenacious sailor to Affleck's reluctant natural leader. Intriguingly, Grainger's Miriam is the film's feistiest character, a woman who simply can't sit still and wait for news.

While the story swells with emotion and heroism, Gillespie manages to keep the sentimentality in check, so the film is truly inspiring without ever pushing the point. Even if Carter Burwell's surging musical score punches all of the big moments, it carefully emphasises the quiet courage that underpins the entire film. This is a rare true-life epic that refuses to get caught up in its own mythology, remembering that these men were just doing what they felt they had to do in an impossible situation, never looking for glory. And this lack of rah-rah machismo is hugely refreshing. Especially in the wake of bombastic depictions like Michael Bay's recent true-life epic 13 Hours.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for The Finest Hours:



The Finest Hours

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th January 2016

Box Office USA: $23.4M

Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Whitaker Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 73 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Craig Gillespie

Producer: James Whitaker,

Starring: as Bernie Webber, as Richard Livesey, as Ray Sybert, as Daniel Cluff, Rachel Brosnahan as Bea Hansen, as Andy Fitzgerald, as Tchuda Southerland, as Actor, as Mel Gouthro, Keiynan Lonsdale as Eldon Hanan

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