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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 9, 2016

The Finest Hours Movie Review: Thrilling Man Versus Nature Movie

‘THE FINEST HOURS’ is based on the book “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue”, an account of the rescue of the oil tanker SS Pendleton after it was split into two during a storm off the Massachusetts coast on February 18, 1952. It works as a man against nature story and as a thrilling seafaring yarn about men fighting for survival amidst seemingly impossible odds.

34 men were aboard the sinking ship and four young men were tasked to help them, led by Chris Pine as Bernie Webber. The Coast Guard was then undermanned because they’re also helping another ship caught in the storm. The four courageous men are risking their lives as they venture out into the dark open seas to face giant waves in their efforts to locate the damaged ship. Things get more perilous when they lose their compass and the visibility is so poor, making their expedition an even more daunting challenge.

The scenes involving the rescue operation are very gripping and tense with its excellent CGI shots that provide jaw-dropping visuals, just like in “The Perfect Storm”. Particularly thrilling is that sequence where the small life boat, in order to survive, had to ride on the crest of humongous waves that relentlessly attack them. We ourselves almost felt the wetness and coldness of the rescue scenes where all of them get drenched with icy water.

Honestly, though, we felt that it’s off to a slow start because it initially banks on the romance involving the shy, diffident Chris and the very forward young woman, Miriam (Holliday Grainger, a British actress who played one of the evil stepsisters in “Cinderella” last year), who’s so in love with him that she was even the one who proposes: “Will you marry me?” Then she was turned off when his reply is “No.”

Made with a sensibility that makes it look old-fashioned, we know they have to pump up the drama to make the proceedings on screen more involving and compelling for the viewers but, truth to tell, we find this overly assertive Miriam girl quite annoying, especially when she has the temerity to ask Chris’ newly appointed commander (Eric Bana in a small supporting role) to order Chris and his three men to come back from their veritable suicide mission.

What we feel Director Craig Gillespie should have done is supplied a bit deeper character delineation for the men trapped in the sinking ship. This would have explored more their interpersonal relationships in the face of a dangerous situation that can kill them all and make the viewers more sympathetic with them. That way, we could all be rooting and cheering for them more vigorously. The only one who’s interesting among them is Casey Affleck as Ray Sybert, the engineer who is a loner but shows strong leadership qualities and much resourcefulness at a time of crisis.

This movie was released by Disney in the U.S. at the last weekend of February and it was quickly clobbered at the box office by its competitor then, “Kung Fu Panda 3”, which became number one in the charts for two weeks before it was beaten by “Deadpool”. What we like about the movie is its epilogue that documents what happened with photographs of the real people involved in the rescue operation. It’s a fitting tribute to their heroism. We even learn that Bernie and Miriam got married two months later and lived together for 58 years until Bernie died in 2009.