The Finest Hours - Review

The Finest Hours is an old fashioned tail of heroism, performed by strong actors and compelling visuals. It tells an engaging story, even if it sometimes fails to live up to its premise.

Plot

If you’re a fan of movies like Captain Phillips or Saving Private Ryan, the incredible true story will enrapture you. Almost every minute is spent on the edge of your seat, wondering if the crew is going to make it out alive. This means that every minute the story spends away from the rescue feels like padding. Holiday Grainger is a great supporting character, at least in the beginning. During the rescue however, the camera will often cut back to Grainger’s character, attempting to provide context to main character Bernie Webber’s (Chris Pine) troubled past in rescue missions. While this side plot is interesting, it never becomes much more than just a few boring characters staring at each other with very rude expressions. Thankfully, the rest of the film is so good it’s easy to forget these missteps. 

Performances

Chris Pine is a strong lead in The Finest Hours as U.S. Coast Guard member Bernie Webber. He, along with the rest of the supporting cast, turn in good performances from all their various perspectives. Casey Affleck acts as the leader of the oil tanker split in two, and plays the role expertly. He brings a great sense of ease to the screen, making every moment he is onscreen feel like it’s all going to be alright. Chris Pine is great as Bernie Webber, and ends up developing much more than I initially thought he would. When he is out on the massive waves, he turns into a new person, one who is in awe of the power of nature, and then into a character who can control it. Chris Pine has never been one of my favorite actors, but after seeing The Finest Hours, I can say he certainly has a place in Hollywood. 

Style

The Finest Hours isn’t breaking any new ground in the visuals department, but it does a great job with mixing reality and special effects, through smart use of slow-motion shots and actual ships bering tossed about the sea. Perhaps the film’s greatest win is its ability to scale affectively. When Bernie and his crew are out on the sea, the camera never focuses on the massive nature of the sea, but instead keeps a tight angle fixed on the small boat. The same goes for Casey Affleck and his crew, as they are on board a Titanic-style ship. The waves will crash and hulls will crack open, but the focus always remains on the people inside.

Summary

The Finest Hours is a great tale of heroism, and one that smartly mixes CGI and practical effects. While it isn’t breaking any new ground, it is still an exhilarating watch, and one that should be experienced with the whole family.

Pros- Leads, special effects

Cons- Uninspired subplot