Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Finest Hours: Film Review

The Finest Hours: Film Review

Cast: Chris Pine, Holliday Grainger, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
Director: Craig Gillespie

It begins with barely a hiss and ends in hardly a roar.

The Finest Hours, based on a true story and from the director of Lars and The Real Girl and Million Dollar Arm, is a muted tale that hardly gets out of dry dock.

In February 1952, Massachussets, and one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast hits, ripping an oil tanker in half.

However, for Coastguard Bernie Webber (Star Trek star Chris Pine), there's a storm of a more emotional intensity raging closer to home as he heads on a date with Miriam for the first time. But when the ocean-bound problems get bigger, Webber and three colleagues are despatched from the Coast Guard to try and save the 30 strong crew of the stranded tanker as the storm gets worse...

The Finest Hours is clearly aiming to recapture some of the intensity of The Perfect Storm from back in 2000 with its digital FX and story of communities under threat.

However, what emerges is as muddied and choppy as the water from the East Coast.

With little time (bizarrely over the 2 hour run time) to create characters to care for, the crew of the tanker are simply no more than once-over-lightly stereotypes that have barely time to register before they're plunged into danger.

Casey Affleck's headstrong and calculating Ray Sybert clashes with the others on board the tanker as they believe he's more wedded to the ship than them; Outlander star Graham McTavish brings his salty sea-dog countenance to bear towards the start of the film before fading away.

Back on land others fare equally unevenly; Grainger's Miriam oscillates wildly from strong-willed woman to damsel in distress and while she captures some of the glamour of the 50s, she barely gains in screen stature despite her presence. Pine also fares unevenly with the depth of the writing and over-simplifications so it's left to a few facial tics and shaking hands to show his state of mind.

Along with the usual hoary on-the-water cliches and some truly atrocious 3D that simply serves to muddy the experience rather than enhance it, leading to scenes on the water looking nothing but a muddled mess, The Finest Hours is, unfortunately, anything but Gillespie's.

Hints of a better story float occasionally and frustratingly to the surface (a failed rescue that ripped apart the community years back, lives torn asunder by living on a coast are just two themes that causes ripples rather than waves) and the inspiration Disney wants us to feel in this ultimate denouement is lost after a sea of dour countenances and a predilection for changing scenery when the action is underway prove fatal to this sea-set tale.


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