The Finest Hours


Release date: January 29, 2016
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Craig Gillespie
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screenwriters: Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy
Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Eric Bana
Genre: Thriller, Action

Review By David Dawson

The Finest Hours is the latest film in Hollywood’s long fascination with dramatizations of real events. It’s a simple enough story, a massive winter storm barrels down on the Massachusetts shore and in doing so two large oil freighters are split in two. The catch is that one of them manages a distress call, the other does not. This leaves only one search and rescue team available in the area to conduct a rescue operation in the worst of conditions.

The events of this film are based on actual events. The Coast Guard sailors who conducted the rescue, under the command of Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) had to do so in a small lifeboat in freezing temperatures and facing massive 70-foot tall waves. The special effects in the film are top-notch and we had the benefit of viewing the film in 3-D, which added to the scope and the scale of the vessels and the waves in the film which helped accentuate the dangers these crews were facing.

The rescue itself is considered one of, if not THE most heroic action of the Coast Guard in its history, and it’s an exciting tale. When the film is focused on that rescue it really shines. The action, the effects, the sounds are a wild symphony of chaos and majesty, Mother Nature at her most fierce. The film falters however by continually sidelining the actions on the water to tell the less interesting tale of Webber’s fiancé Miriam (Holliday Grainger) trying to cope with her fiancé going out into violent waters for the first time. Grainger does a fine job portraying the headstrong Miriam and has a particularly enjoyable scene with Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) the base commander. However, this shore based story line feels far less satisfying than the incredibly high stakes the men at sea are facing. This left me continually counting the moments until we would leave Miriam’s side story and get back to the drama at sea.

Overall the film is worth a watch on the big screen so that you can really soak in the spectacle.