We're gonna need a bigger boat.

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

Movies depicting Coast Guard rescuers are far too few and between - heck, even off the top of my head I can only name three from the past two decades, and thatís including The Finest Hours - especially those based upon true events. Probably because no film Director and crew really fancies themselves filming in the water all day - I assume itís a nightmare - but that is what this Craig Gillespie helmed creation intends, albeit with more watery CGI than you can shake a stick at.

The Finest Hours begins with a prologue of sorts in the early 1950ís, as the consummate pushover that is Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) accompanied by his best friend Mel (Beau Knapp) attempt to charm the ladies on a blind date - in their small, snowy, coastal town of Chatham in Massachusetts - the target of Bernie's wholly absent personality is Miriam (Holliday Grainger) who embodies an idyllic visage of 50ís housewife.

Against all odds, the pair manage to hit it off - I have to assume this small town has slim pickings in choices of partner - and the two become an item. Unfortunately Bernie has a day job, one that involves him being put in harm's way and facing disdain from his fellow neighbours due to his recent failures in saving their loved ones as a member of the Coast Guard.

Elsewhere - a few miles off the coast of Cape Cod to be precise - the SS Pendleton in the midst of a very violent storm, struggles in some very rough seas. In the bowels of this ocean-faring mammoth is a worried looking Chief Engineer (Ray Sybert played by Casey Affleck) who is pleading with the Captain over the radio for permission to slow down - it seems they are re-enacting classic Star Trek episodes.

Unfortunately Ray has reason to worry, as a crashing wave causes a recent weld to rupture, sending the ship and its crew into a tumble and the pouring of ocean water flooding in. After gathering their bearings the crew find that their ship has shrunk a little - picture the iconic scene from Titanic - as the SS Pendleton has been completely ripped in half, luckily the engines are still intact and running, along with the closed bulkheads keeping the ocean at bay - at least for now.

Back on land the Coast Guard station is already a ghost town due to another ship - the SS Fort Mercer - having already signalled a distress call due the same storm earlier, and much like the SS Pendleton has also been ripped in two.

Itís not a great day for new Warrant Officer Cluff (Eric Bana) who orders Bernie and his volunteer seamen crew - consisting of Ryan Livesey (Ben Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner) and Ervin Maske (John Magaro) - on a suicide mission to rescue to the downed ship - itís hard to tell if Cluff is naive to the job or just incompetent. But set on his mission - and portrayed as a man who will follow any order given - Bernie and his able bodied crew set out on an impossible task.

If you had watched The Finest Hours and knew not of its real life leanings you would shrug the movie off merely as another preposterous disaster-flick. But whilst there are definitely added moments and situations intended to create dramatic - and sometimes completely cheesy - effect, itís unbelievable that these events truly happened. As a film The Finest Hours does its best work on the tension-filled sinking ship, as youíll invest with the crew and the plight of dealing with not only their inner-strife but the various methods they use to keep their home afloat as long as possible - just in the faint hope of rescue.

Comparatively the mainland crew with their dodgy Boston accents and forced romantic through line doesnít quite create the same spark, especially in a 3D format with a layer of blur creating an almost dreamlike vision of the picture. And Whilst Chris Pine does a fine job as Bernie, he doesnít feel like a real cohesive character until the film's climactic third act as he battles against giant CGI waves in order to keep his friends alive.

I feel The Finest Hours is a film at odds with itself, not quite sure if it wants to be a popcorn disaster-flick with our heroes stacked against insurmountable odds, as tsunami-sized waves jump out of the screen in full 3D effect - and that works great by the way - or a slow burn, romantic yarn between a woman and a very awkward man who is everyone's welcome mat.

Whilst The Finest Hours is indeed not quite sure what it wants to be, the true story of the SS Pendleton and it's unbelievable rescue is well worth a watch. And whilst the 3D detracts from any story offerings, it is sure to bring a thrill to audiences in the film's latter quarter.

The Finest Hours is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    4th February 2016

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • 3D detracts from story

    A few cheesy scenes

    Not quite sure what it wants to be

  • Tension filled

    Some nice visual effects

Film Info

The Finest Hours The Finest Hours
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 19th February
Runtime: 1 hr 57 mins
Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Holliday Grainger, Eric Bana, Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner & John Magaro

  • The Perfect Storm
  • The Guardian
  • In The Heart Of The Sea

Yes, whilst there are depictions of death it's not vividly shown or lingered upon.

The movie was filmed on location in the actual town of Chatham.

Actor Ben Foster claims this was his most challenging role to date, due to the large amounts of time spent in cold water.

Based off a book of the same name by author's Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias.