Craig Gillespie’s THE FINEST HOURS
Review by Dennis D. McDonald
The Finest Hours is a masterful combination of action, romance, heroism, traditional concepts of bravery, and superb special effects.
The story: a Coast Guard rescue ship is ordered out on a suicidal mission in a raging storm to rescue survivors from a tanker that has split in half. The Coast Guard ship's radio and compass are dead. The crew perseveres in the search despite darkness and a raging storm with towering waves.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster (both will later appear in Hell or High Water) muscle through as half the four-man rescue crew. Pine shows another side of acting talent that his Captain Kirk has overlooked. Casey Affleck shines as the take-charge thinker who figures out how to maintain the tanker remnants afloat until help arrives.
The sets and special effects are excellent. Inside the doomed tanker you can almost smell the engine oil, rust, and cold salt spray. On the water the rescue boat is tossed about and submerged by giant waves that crash and splash in an unending assault on the senses. Audio-wise good use to is made of the rear surround sound channels as booming waves and an aggressive Carter Burwell soundtrack illustrate the chaos.
I read some criticism online of the jumping back and forth to land and the waiting fiancé. I liked it; on paper it sounds like a cliché but I think it's important to illustrate what goes on with "the people left behind" in such harrowing circumstances.
Bottom line: this is a true story. This harrowing rescue did take place despite incredible odds. These were brave men doing brave deeds as they carried out their orders. Now and then it is nice to see the good humans are capable of.
Review copyright © 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald