Hot Take: The Finest Hours proves one thing… I am a sap who has a soft spot for sappy, classic-style films.
Based on a true story, The Finest Hours takes some liberties with the retelling but, for the most part, is on target. (Not to get off track but why is it when Aaron Sorkin wantonly butchers reality in the name of art, we laud him but fail to do the same when someone else does it in the name of entertainment? Just wondering.) The film celebrates what is considered to be the greatest small-boat rescue in the history of the Coast Guard. In an effort to add some drama, the writer and director re-work the true love story slightly but do a reasonable facsimile of the rest of the true tale with some impressive looking high seas rescue scenes.
Credit some strong performances from Chris Pine as Bernie Webber (the Coast Guard crewman who successfully navigates the rough seas on a suicide rescue mission), Casey Affleck as Ray Sybert (the crew member of the SS Pendleton oil tanker who helps mastermind a plan to keep the ship afloat long enough to be rescued) and Holliday Grainger as Bernie’s girlfriend/fiancée Miriam with providing enough to fill in gaps of the good but hollow script. Their performances deliver strong enough to provide added emotion to the film’s last half hour.
Where The Finest Hours suffers isn’t in it’s stretching of the truth but in it’s stretching of the clock in an effort to artificially inflate the drama of the rescue. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect as the bloated scenes toss an unnecessary anchor to the film’s pace and unnecessarily drag out the story. There are about 10-15 scenes that feel about a minute or two too long which makes The Finest Hours feel about 20 minutes too long.
By the end of 2016, The Finest Hours will sit somewhere in the middle of the pack with around 50 or 60 better movies still to come but, for now, it is the best of the year.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Rescue Sequences
Everything away from land is impressive and tense. The CGI effects are very well done and if anything close to reality, it’s even more amazing than imagined.
- Pine and Grainger
The pair have great chemistry. Even though there was some Hollywood injected into the love story of Bernie and Miriam, it isn’t that far off from reality and it makes for good classic cinema.
- Casey Affleck
Affleck’s role feels like a departure from how he’s typically cast. There’s nothing wrong with that as he delivers an understated but solid performance as Sybert.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Eric Bana
At some point, someone will explain to me what Bana adds to a film as I’ve yet to see one where I felt the movie was better thanks to his presence. He often feels like an extra plucked out of the crowd and thrown in because the original actor was sick and in The Finest Hours, it’s no different.
- The Finest Hour?
Even though there are parts I particularly enjoyed, there was plenty of film that could have found it’s way to the cutting room floor. It’s hard to imagine anyone loving The Finest Hours from beginning to end even if they loved the movie as a whole.