The Finest Hours
The Finest Hours is as earnest and dull in its well-meaning, true-story intentions as Chris Pine’s emasculated, rule-abiding hero. Based on the 1952 rescue attempt of two oil tankers which were split in two during a storm off the coast of Massachusetts, the life-and-death story has obvious appeal for movie-makers. However, the two hours you will spend watching the drama slowly unfold and unexcitingly resolve are far from fine.
Pine plays Bernie, an unassuming young coastguard on the cusp of romantic happiness when a storm hits and he is tasked with taking a crew out over the bar into almost certain death. As we watch the tanker’s desperate crew bitch at each other and gaze meaningfully out to the horizon, Bernie’s commanding officer (a banal Eric Bana) barks orders at his disrespectful team while the visibility declines… and then everyone goes off to the canteen to have a cup of tea! No one in the film moves or makes decisions with any urgency, and even switching the narrative back and forth between the endangered and the rescuers doesn’t keep things energetic. The result is a disaster movie which feels like it is driving through unfamiliar territory with its foot on the brake.
Director Craig Gillespie gained attention with his debut Lars and the Real Girl, a kooky tale of a young man who falls in love with a blow-up doll. While its star, Ryan Gosling, went on to cinematic magnificence, Gillespie has dabbled in average horror movies and casually racist family stories like Million Dollar Arm. He may not be entirely to blame for this mediocre inaction movie, and it’s curious that the risible screenplay was co-written by the three chaps who wrote the Oscar-winning The Fighter.
But it’s clear that even a potentially stellar cast (Bana in a Southern accent; an utterly wasted Casey Affleck who is worthy of far better scripts; the irritating but hard-working British actress Holliday Grainger) and the usually reliable, if unspectacular, Pine simply could not do this impressive true tale justice.