The Finest Hours (2016)
Directed by Craig Gillespie
If the politically-charged “13 Hours” isn’t for you, Disney’s seafaring thriller “The Finest Hours” might serve as a suitable water-based alternative. Both feature daring rescues and escapist thrills aplenty. In “The Finest Hours,” you also get a reliable Disney script, co-penned by the Oscar-nominated writers of “The Fighter.”
Always one to follow the books to the strictest order, Coast Guardsman Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) asks his commanding officer (Eric Bana) for permission to marry his fiancée, Miriam (Holliday Grainger). But more than his sense of rule-following is his sense of duty, so when he hears about an oil tanker sinking off the coast of Massachusetts, he’s the first one called upon to lead a rescue mission. Meanwhile, on the ship (actually, just half of a ship now), Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) and his crew are desperately searching for a way to keep their vessel afloat until someone can get to them. But the crew is wet and tired and mostly hopeless. Bernie bravely leads a crew of men (including Richard, played by Ben Foster) as he leaves his love on shore.
It’s a tale of two tales, but unfortunately “The Finest Hours” gives us only one worth watching. Chris Pine’s soft New England accent and even softer persona become increasingly annoying, and Grainger’s overzealous character got on my nerve from the first minute. Besides knowing nothing about her, she seems like a vessel to tell the story of what happens on land—nothing more. Plus, the chemistry between the Pine and Grainger was lacking, and the story of their romance was dry. Not surprising, since the whole plot was somewhat predictable. Far more compelling was the distressed crew of the sinking half-ship trying to cope with almost certain death. It’s a story that’s been told before, but one that hasn’t lost its dramatic appeal. Plus, Casey Affleck (despite a slow start) commands his storyline with a strong performance.
Composer Carter Burwell, Oscar-nominated for his work on “Carol,” crafts another beautiful piece to accompany “The Finest Hours.” When music is vital to a scene’s drama, Burwell can be counted on to capture the emotions in music. But even with Burwell’s score, the exciting visual effects—which made this moviegoer a bit seasick—failed to make up for the mediocre story. Disney doesn’t make bad movies. But they’ve done better than “The Finest Hours.”