Ben Zacuto ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Disney’s The Finest Hours, a 1950’s era biopic framing the harrowing events of one of the greatest rescue missions in US Coast Guard history, it is a thrilling silver screen experience that is sadly bogged down by a poor script. Ripping in half the SS Pendleton (a T-2 Oil Tanker bound for Boston, MA), an offshore nor’easter storm traps 30 sailors on board the sinking vessel. Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), first assistant egineer clamors to keep the stern afloat as infighting threatens to tear the men apart. Meanwhile, word of the disaster reaches the U.S. Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts, where Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) orders a daring rescue team of four men, led by Coast Guard Captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), to set out in a wooden lifeboat with an ill-equipped engine and barely any means of navigation; facing frigid temperatures, 60-foot high waves and hurricane-force winds to rescue the stranded sailors.
However, as exciting as the rescue mission sounds (for the record, the mission is executed really well), the story is dragged down by a lack luster love story between Bernie Webber and his fiancé Miriam Webber (Holliday Grainger). While both Grainger and Pine do have great chemistry on screen, the by-the-numbers script up-plays the rather uninteresting relationship. Director Craig Gillespie intercuts the action scenes of Bernie on the water those of Miriam complaining about her husband back on shore, which not only takes away from the thrilling rescue mission, but also does a disservice to Grainger’s character who is supposed to come across as a strong feminist in the otherwise male-centric picture.
With that said, The Finest Hours is a really fun watch, even if it barely struggles to stay afloat just as the stern of the SS Pendleton does. The delicate costume design, genuine-sounding New England accents, detailed on-location sets, and amazing visual effects work to stand out as some of the very best in the Walt Disney Pictures biopic line-up. Rivaling the work done in many of the other lack-luster Disney live-action dramas, The Finest Hours doesn’t quit reach the ingenuity that, for instance, 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks portrayed. Still, The Finest Hours comes really close, even if the script dredges down the picture just as much as the salt water does in the lonely stern of the SS Pendleton.
Overall Grade: C
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