‘The Finest Hours’
Director: Craig Gillespie
Stars: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck
2 (out of 5) Globes
“The Finest Hours” is a mixed bag — a movie so at war with itself that its split personality is reflected in its poster. Underneath an image of a behemoth of a ship trying to stay afloat amidst torrential super-weather run the words “based on the incredible true story.” So far, par for course for a live-action Disney film, which tend to exclusively peddle real-life triumphs of the human spirit. Up top, though, reads a far grimmer, more fatalistic, less human spirit triumphing proclamation: “We all live or we all die.”
“The Finest Hours” is both extremes. It tells of the storied, improbable rescue of two oil tankers caught up in a wicket nor’easter off of Cape Cod — a broadly drawn tale of underdogs fighting against the odds and coming out on top. It has a corny prologue, people screeching things like “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” and “Not on my watch!”, plus a sadsack hero — a lowly Coast Guard runt played by Chris Pine — we know is weak because his fiancee, Miriam (Holliday Grainger), proposed to him, not the other way around. It’s why Pine’s Bernard lights out on a suicide rescue mission in the first place: Appropriately emasculated by his ball-busting colleagues, he has to man up.
On the other hand, Miriam is portrayed as headstrong, and the screenplay doesn't forget about her even when it's delivering its main attraction: manly men being pummeled inside a wave pool studio. The crews of both tankers, who’ve converged onto one, aren’t sure anyone’s coming. What follows is a tough look at the process of staying alive via problem solving, a la “Apollo 13” and “The Martian.” It even goes light on sentimentality and weepy moments. After all, its characters are too busy with the gruntwork of survival to worry about whether viewers are getting much in the way of feels.