Alright, so maybe I thought this movie was going to be good. I didn’t know this was a January release. Thought it was February. While I won’t say this was a movie that I was particularly excited to see, I am an avid fan of Chris Pine and the guy has always delivered solid performances, so I was going to see this movie eventually. That I’m seeing it before KUNG FU PANDA 3 comes as a slight shock, but hey, a far better alternative than FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK. Convenience won the night, so here’s my honest opinion of THE FINEST HOURS.
Based on true events, set during the backdrop of 1952, Bernie (Chris Pine) is a Coast Guardsman. Some years ago, he meets and falls hard for the beautiful Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Fast-forward to 1952, Miriam proposes to Bernie. After a rocky yes, he says he needs to get permission from his superior officer Chief Warrant Officer Cluff (Eric Bana). However, matters are complicated when a pair of oil tankers get caught by a storm and get shredded by the subsequent waves. Chief Cluff sends Bernie and his team consisting of Seaman Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), Seaman Wallace Quirey (John Ortiz), and Engineman Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner) to hit the rough seas and rescue the survivors, despite the high risk of death.
FUN FACT: This was a DISNEY flick??? Didn’t know that going in.
It’s not bad, but it’s not the best this month had to offer.
What exactly anchors it down? Honestly, the beginning contributes. Anyone remember that awkward, horribly-written dialog in STAR WARS EPISODE III between characters Anakin and Padme? Yeah, the romance dialog between Bernie and Miriam is about that painful. It’s almost that bad. I mean, thankfully the characters pick up later on in the movie, but this opens up with a grown-ass man asking his best friend if he “should have worn the other shirt” for this near-blind date with a girl he’s been talking to over the phone. Bernie is written so bland and awkward, and not in the charming sort of way. These scenes are so bad, if you look at Pine’s expression throughout it all, even HE looks like he knows how bad it’s going to be. Also, it’s been established that Bernie and Miriam have been talking for awhile, but the way they talk in person to each other, you’d swear that they had just met. I know bad conversationalists exist, being one of them myself, but even I’m not THAT bad at small talk. Even the proposal scene is awkward. She proposes, he says no, runs after her as she walks away hurt, and then… with no real build-up, just says okay to marriage and everything is suddenly hunky dory between the two of them. Uh, no, that’s not how that would play out in real life, guys, and I’m pretty sure that’s not how that happened in their real lives either.
But honestly, the beginning may be the worst part, but this movie had a penchant for introducing characters poorly. Casey Affleck’s character Ray Sybert is introduced like a stuttering idiot. Cluff is a consistently awkward character with his head up his ass, all of it is off-putting and some of those characters don’t change. While Bernie develops a bit, Miriam is surprisingly annoying. The tail-end of a particular scene is literally just her, in the most unexpressed way possible, saying over and over again, “please call them back.” No fluctuation, not taking the hint that this officer isn’t going to listen to her, no change in tactics, it’s painful.
And while this may be the least offending oopsie in the movie, I counted at least twice that small rescue boat went full submarine while being driven through those waves. Um… I don’t want to pretend to know how boats work, but… I wanna say that’s bullshit.
Oh, and that ending sort of feels like a cop-out.
I won’t say the scenes with Bernie and his crew venturing out into the ocean wasn’t dramatic, and the rescuing of the survivors is definitely the most intense part of the movie, the end does feel rushed though. Why? Because while there is a ton of ominous set-up, the crew doesn’t have their compass, so they don’t know where they are and can’t find their way back, the ending just… makes them find their way back. I guess you can argue that even Bernie comments that the only way he found the survivors was pure luck, are we really going to have that be the excuse for their return home? Just blind stupid luck? They went through hell just to find the survivors, but it was just a casual sail home? I’m pretty sure more dramatic shit happened between the rescue and the return to dry land. Cheap ending.
Man, I feel like I’m harping a little too much on the movie, so I’m gonna put a stop to that and get to the good stuff, which there is quite a bit.
First off, there are some damn cool shots and the stakes are cranked up to eleven because of them. There’s a scene where Sybert is tasking a crew mate to talk to the captain of their vessel, but as this guy is trying to find his way to the opposite end of the ship, he nearly falls off as the camera slowly pans way and we see that there is no opposite end of the ship. We get some brutal imagery of the other half getting decimated by waves, this unforgiving ocean just swallowing hapless men unlucky enough to be outside, it hits home like a bitch.
Like I said, Sybert gets better-written after his intro, and he is clearly established as a smart guy who knows how to save everyone’s lives in this situation. Even if his plans seem crazy, you know he’s the best chance these men have at surviving. He thinks outside the box, always working out ways to last just a little bit longer, he quickly becomes the best character of the entire movie. The same could be said about Bernie who does a fine job of inspiring his men to keep faith that they will get home, even though you see the doubt in his eyes. Running the gauntlet of emotions like that isn’t always easy, but Pine nails it when he needs to. It’s just a shame that it’s not more consistent.
You know, overall, I don’t think I need to see this movie again, but it was worth this one viewing. It’s got some serious flaws, no doubt, but some of this movie’s most intense moments are quite worth it. A solid movie, but it’s clear this script needed some retooling.
My honest rating: 3/5
But what did you guys think? Was it as good as the TV spots were making it out to be? Was it just a little too weak for your tastes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.