Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars
Bottom Line: Amazing true story. Two gripping dramas and a shoehorned love story.
There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. “The Finest Hours” is a true-ish story about a rescue attempt that crosses that line. It’s one of those things where they are labelled brave because they were stunningly successful, but if they had failed there would likely have been inquests and courts martial (if courts martial are a thing in the Coast Guard) (yes, courts martial is the plural of court martial). Basic story: A massive nor’easter hits New England causing massive waves that keeps the Coast Guard busy rescuing ships. One oil tanker breaks in half and an intrepid band of Guarders are instructed to take a puddle jumper that shouldn’t be out in those seas and effect a rescue.
There are three basic stories to this movie: The rescuers. The doomed shipmates. The wistful romance. The two former are both informative and powerful. The latter is kind of thrown in as a way to humanize the main character, Bernie Weber (Chris Pine), and as a way to fulfill the Hollywood trope that every leading man must have a love interest. Really, Chris Pine does such an effective job of portraying Bernie Weber that there is no need to further humanize him by inserting a love interest. Thankfully, it doesn’t interfere with the story too much and it does at least introduce a more no-nonsense woman than you would normally expect, but pass the Bechdel Test this movie does not.
There are not many movies that you can say are informative, but “The Finest Hours” is such. There are all sorts of useful maritime nuggets that may be second nature to the New England seamen, but might as well be part of a different world to us landlubbers. I appreciate that the effort was made to inform.
“The Finest Hours” is done well enough that it’s worth seeing. If only just to say, “Wow, someone actually did that.” I continue to be impressed with Chris Pine’s acting ability. Yes there are all the usual cliches you expect from a movie about the sea, but they don’t take away from the enjoyment too much.