The Finest Hours is a perfectly entertaining film which truly speaking surprised me with both its entertainment quotient and subtle human drama. This would have been a much lesser film had they not tied together a very well done love story with essentially what is a sea rescue movie. It must also be noted that this is a true story. The story revolves around the most daring small boat coast guard rescues ever in the history. Bernie Webber and his team of three sail through a murdering blizzard to rescues over 20 people from what survived of the wrecked oil tanker SS Pendleton. The film is elevated by some scintillating action, bravura performances from Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger and some terrific Visual effects.
The film begins very low key. It feels like a love story of a dreamy lover as we go through the motions for the first fifteen – twenty minutes as the relation between Pine and Grainger is built up. The proceedings catch speed as we are introduced to the crew of the SS Pendleton who are worried about a breach in the hull as they are sailing through a blizzard. Soon the unthinkable happens and the ship and its surviving crew is stuck in the middle of the sea with no one else but Bernie and his crew of three in a small boat to rescue them.
It’s a known fact that the ship broke into two pieces, one of the pieces went down while the other coasted for a while. However the manner in which it is presented here will give you goosebumps. It worked even better for me as I was not aware of the story going into this film. Films like Poseidon and Titanic have shown us all that can be thought of or imagined in terms of ships falling into a watery abyss but there is something extremely affecting about the action here which has a strange novelty associated with it.
The action and the carnage is shot with aplomb. It is I believe one of the major reasons for the impact and the grueling effect that the visuals have on us. Lot of the CGI feels very real. Sans the fact that the crew on the ship act remarkably cool in the face of death, the rest of the acts are in line with story and feel of the film. Bernie and his company that also has Ben Foster playing an important role really gives you a feel of the situation. They have to sail through a stretch of the sea that they refer to as the “Bar”. The ten minutes of the film that the crew spends to get through the Bar is alone worth the price of admission. This sequence is thrilling and exhilarating and you as the viewer constantly get a feeling that something bad was about to happen in this sequence. The cinematography, the editing and the VFX reach their pinnacle in these sequences.
There are four major performances that grab your attention. Chris Pine as Bernie is wonderful. His act is reserved, he is extremely physical and poised when he has to be and he absolutely scored in the romantic sequences which make up a large part of the film. Holliday Grainger plays Bernie’s Love interest and her act is brooding. It is through her essay that we further realize the gravity of the situation and the amount of loss that she would have to suffer through if Bernie didn’t make it home. Casey Affleck is calm and calculative. Perhaps a little too calm and calculative for the role he is playing. Ben Foster is his usual self and I like him the way he is. He does act in Pine’s shadow but he does well. The fifth and almost unnoticed character is Eric Bana. He has a minuscule role and that too is very limited in terms of character development and sheer length.
I loved the overall feel of the film. The sixties feeling and the vibe was very much there and that was stamped all across the screenplay. The film had enough material to keep us entertained and offer enough in terms of human drama to appeal to those who are in for more than the action. The performances are good, the film looks good and the action is relentless. What else could we ask for from a film like this? I went in with low expectations and that proved to be an added advantage. For all those who are having two minds about watching this film, I urge you to give it a go. You will not regret it.
Rating 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)