Review: ‘The Finest Hours’ Barely Stays Afloat
“The Finest Hours” factually represents the mission but romanticizes the story.
“The Finest Hours” is based on the most astounding small boat rescue mission by the United States Coast Guard. Bernie Webber, played by Chris Pine, led the rescue mission in 1952 with a crew of three men. The film depicts the events that occurred during that rescue mission as well as the personal life of Bernie Webber including his love life and dedication to the Coast Guard.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Etc.) – 2.5
This film continually walks the line of success and failure. The aspects of success in “The Finest Hours” are mostly present in the second act where the more climactic moments of the film occur. The battle at sea against the elements provides substantial suspense and visual appeal. Based on cinematography alone, this film excels in its visual depiction of the dark and ominous oceanic setting. But while the rescue mission itself may be appealing, the moments leading up to the mission are long and arduous.
The backstory surrounding the main characters is highly romanticized, especially when it comes to Bernie’s wife Miriam. I understand the need to create a strong woman providing support for Bernie, but much of Miriam’s involvement in the film is fabricated. I believe this is why the relationship between Bernie and Miriam did not seem as genuine as the rest of the moments in the film. I cared very little about their relationship because the character development was lacking, dry, and disjointed from the rest of story. I think they should have focused more on the factual aspects of their relationship and things would have moved more fluidly. If you care to spoil a bit of the film, you can read up on the actual facts versus fiction at History vs Hollywood.
With the first act being a bit difficult to swallow, I will say that many of the actors gave an adequate performance overall. Chris Pine played the role of Bernie well with his quiet yet determined demeanor. But if you read more about Bernie Webber, you will find that there wasn’t much to him as he led a quiet and simple life. Holliday Grainger also gave a fine performance despite her character feeling out of place in the film. She was charismatic and sincere which was the only thing genuine about her character. Ben Foster and Casey Affleck both stood out to me as the best performances of the film. Ben Foster has continuously proved himself in a variety of roles so I wasn’t surprised. Casey Affleck seems to be continually honing his craft as an actor and the most riveting scenes in the film are dictated by his actions.
Overall “The Finest Hours” could have fared better being titled “The Finest Hour” and having its runtime cut in half. The faults of this film mostly lie in the first act creating a lot of unnecessary anticipation leading up to the climax.
Entertainment Value – 2.5
Supplementing the final statement under “Cinematics,” this film was split down the middle from an entertainment perspective. It only seemed logical that a 2.5 out of 5 be given for this category based on that notion.
I enjoyed the suspense and excitement in the second act while I almost loathed the first act. I wish that the characters would have been explored in a more suitable fashion that would have established some sort of emotional connection. If they could have created that connection, it would have complemented the suspense of the second half.
Re-Watchability – 2
I enjoyed the visuals but not enough to sit through “The Finest Hours” for a second viewing. I appreciate the aspect of the story being based on true events so there could be a desire to watch again for a factual comparison, but as a film, I would not be interested in multiple viewings.
The Finest Hours
Starring: Chris Pine, Holliday Grainger, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster
Directed By: Craig Gillespie
Written By: Scott Silver (screenplay), Paul Tamasy (screenplay)
Running Time: 117 minutes
"The Finest Hours" holds true to both its visuals and suspense, but you'll have to patiently wait for that excitement. The performances were adequate but overall the film was not as cohesively put together as we would have hoped.