In the winter of 1952, four daring coast guards attempt to rescue the crew of the SS Pendleton, an oil tanker that has been torn apart during a violent storm. Based on the true-story, Craig Gillespie’s The Finest Hours is an exciting and visually-striking spectacle that delivers impressive action and features a talented ensemble cast, including Eric Bana, Casey Affleck, Holliday Grainger, Ben Foster and Chris Pine.
Pine, best known as Captain Kirk in the recent Star Trek films, is perfectly cast as earnest and principled coast guard, Bernie Webber, whose understated nature suits the actor’s talents considerably, more than that of the brash and arrogant Kirk. Although Pine is the stand-out, Casey Affleck also impresses as Ray Sybert, the engineer aboard the tanker, in a brooding and intense performance. Holliday Grainger deserves more screen-time as Bernie’s spirited fiancée, Miriam. Her chemistry with Pine gives the film its heart, but is quickly overshadowed by the focus on the action set-pieces.
“The final scenes are a triumph of sentimentality over what should be a powerful crescendo”
The sequence focusing on the rescue boat’s journey out to meet the tanker is gripping and creates a genuine sense of peril. The superb special effects successfully convey the scale of the storm and heighten the tension, in what is the film’s most thrilling and intense stretch.
Sadly, the fast pace and excitement of the second act is not maintained, which results in a critical loss of momentum towards the film’s conclusion. Though, and perhaps because it remains faithful to the true-story, the final sequence is neither as gripping nor as visually-impressive as the earlier action. The final scenes are a triumph of sentimentality over what should be a powerful crescendo.
Action-packed and excellent at times, but ultimately as uneven as the waves that Pine and his crew were battling, The Finest Hours is an enjoyable, but predicable voyage.
More like this: The Perfect Storm (2000)