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The wind was tired of being still
And spun its wings with fearful will.
It threaded threats with every thrust
And shook the sea with every gust,
Reminding man he was but dust
In fear of nature’s means to kill.

Beneath the atmospheric rant
That conjured waves with every pant
Were men in danger of the gale
And men who braved the wintry wail,
Enrolled to risk, too bold to fail
Or yield to whisper-winds of “Can’t.”

MPAA rating: PG-13

The Finest Hours is essentially The Perfect Storm with a happier ending, but this is one case where the tragedy outshines the victory. Despite this, The Finest Hours is a good film and a worthy tribute to the brave men who, in 1952, saved the crew of a bisected ship in a daring tempest-tossed rescue.

The heroism is admirable, but the characters performing it are less than memorable. Chris Pine is the strongest player, playing Bernie Webber, a Coast Guard crewman whose diffident nature is the polar opposite of Pine’s Captain Kirk persona. Due to a past failed rescue, Bernie doubts himself, as do several residents of his Massachusetts town, but he proves himself by rising to the occasion when he is sent out in search of the distressed SS Pendleton. As honorable as Bernie is, there are moments where his character is peculiarly hesitant, such as an early moment where a marriage proposal is met by an unexplained, glossed-over “no.” On the other side of the disaster, Casey Affleck as the Pendleton’s engineer Ray Sybert rallies the crew with his expertise and good sense, but despite hints to the contrary, he’s never developed past a heroic blank slate.

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Smaller moments with side characters work better, such as the helpful resolve of Bernie’s fiancée Miriam (Holliday Grainger) or a discerning realization of one of the townsfolk who blamed Bernie for his past failure. It was also nice to see Graham McTavish from The Hobbit trilogy outside of his dwarf makeup. In addition, the inclement effects recreate the danger of the nor’easter threatening everyone at sea and keep the extended rescue scenes tense and treacherous.

I can’t say I didn’t care for the characters in The Finest Hours, but I didn’t know them well enough. As much as I usually prefer happy endings, The Perfect Storm is a better film, if only for the stronger characterization, but The Finest Hours still brings a laudable dose of maritime valor to the screen.

Best line: (Bernie) “They say you gotta go out. They don’t say you gotta come back.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S.G. Liput
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