Published On: Fri, Jan 29th, 2016

‘The Finest Hours’ shines the spotlight on Coast Guard heroism

Disney has a way of picking film projects that truly tug at the heart strings.  With the release of The Finest Hours on January 29, 2016, Disney doesn’t just tug but drags you across the ocean in a storm, dunks you several times, then picks you up and flips you around before finally letting you reach a mostly-happy ending.

The Finest Hours, directed by Craig Gillespie, tells the story of an amazing rescue mission during which four members of the Coast Guard took a lifeboat out in a storm to rescue 32 sailors from a sinking ship.  By the way, the storm was so rough that it ripped two oil tankers in half and the sailors just happened to be fighting the clock on the sinking stern of one of those ships.

Sounds a bit more amazing now, doesn’t it?

And one final detail……it’s the true story of events that took place in 1952!

The Finest Hours movie posterIn my opinion, the movie was wonderful as it shared with us how these men raised the bar of bravery to an unbelievable new height.  Visually, it was amazing although it was at times a bit difficult to see what exactly was happening, but that’s the point.  This was happening at nighttime in the middle of a storm so visibility was naturally low.  The use of minimal lighting on screen, if you will, definitely conveyed that sense of not knowing what’s out there in the vast waters off the coast of Massachusetts and a horrible sense of lonely desperation.

Chris Pine plays the hero of our story, Bernie Webber, an introverted by-the-book type of guy who finds himself faced with a potential suicide mission.  This is a far cry from the self-assured, cocky Captain Kirk and it’s quite refreshing to see Pine show how broad his range can be.

Casey Affleck plays Ray Sybert, the sailor who kept his wits about him and repeatedly “MacGyver’ed” ways to keep the sinking vessel afloat.  Affleck did a fine job in the role, but it wasn’t a great stretch from some of his other work.  Mr. Sybert was a quiet, serious man which is a common role for Affleck.

The rest of the cast is rounded out by Eric Bana, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, and a bunch of other familiar faces from series on Showtime and Starz.  You’ll find yourself looking at their faces and thinking, “Now what show have I seen him in?”  They all deserve high fives as no one delivered a poor performance.

The only possible negative I would point out is that the Massachusetts accents can be challenging to understand at times, especially when spoken in more hushed tones.  Some might say the film is a bit slow, but I think it followed an appropriately steady pace.  I’ve also heard criticisms of the lack of character development regarding the sailors trying to survive.  But I don’t believe any further development was needed.  As soon as I saw the ship split in two and people running across the top deck of the sinking half, I didn’t need anything else to make me care about the men in the stern.  That was enough for me as I found myself wringing my hands together quiet frequently.

I had the pleasure of enjoying the film in 3D, but this might be a bit too intense for individuals with a fear of the water or drowning.  However you do see it, just keep reminding yourself…..true story….true story.  When you have such an amazing story to tell as this one, how could the movie not be great?

The Finest Hours receives 4 out of 5 stars

Review by Debbie Sage

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