Telling a story really can be an art. We all know people in our lives that can take the most mundane experience and turn it into an adventure just by the way they tell it. The opposite can be true as well, take someone who is not as gifted at storytelling and even the most exciting story turns into something that loses your attention pretty fast. In 1952 the Coast Guard made an incredible rescue of thirty-two sailors whose ship had broken in two during a violent storm. For the members of that rescue, they had that story they could tell the rest of their lives, a story we get to hear with the release of “The Finest Hour”.
Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) is a pretty simple man, who is very much into following the rules. He is also a pretty quiet and reserved guy. We meet Bernie as he is meeting a girl named Miriam (Holliday Grainger). It is love at first site and the two become a couple. Fast-forward a year later and while two love birds are planning to be married, a ship off the cost of Cape Cod is in a storm that it cannot handle. When the ship breaks in two, the rear somehow stays afloat, and with the knowhow of its crew they are able to buy some time to be rescued. The problem is that they are not the only endangered ship, and the other ship is the one getting all the attention. That leaves Bernie and his crew of four, Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner), and Ervin Maske (John Magaro) to save the crew of that ship from certain death.
There is no arguing that what these men did was extraordinary, and they are without a doubt, heroes. While the story is amazing, the screenplay by Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Scott Silver ends up being very ordinary. Gone is any tension and build up, and characters that might have been special, were traded for cool CGI. The film is adapted from a book by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, which might be a better way to relive this story.
Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), started off in the Indie film world, and quickly found himself directing Disney films, the first being “Million Dollar Arm” both of which seem to be playing it safe. Nothing in this film is impressive except the source material, and somehow the filmmakers took a great story and made it pretty average. With a cast that includes Ben Foster, Eric Bana, and Casey Affleck, all of their characters feel like cardboard stand-ins, with only Holliday Grainger having any life in hers. This story deserved a better telling, and should have taken its cues from another story like this one in “The Perfect Storm” which did focus on characters you want to root for. Instead “The Finest Hours” is put through the Disney prism and is turned into something that doesn’t live up to its title.