Disney is starting off the year with their new film, The Finest Hours. The Finest Hours is a ‘based on a true story’ film in which the US Coast Guard make a heroic rescue of tank crew, stranded at sea. While engaging in some aspects, The Finest Hours is far from a perfect film, or even a memorable one.
The film stars Hollywood big shot, Chris Pine as Bernie Webber. Webber is a US Coast Guard, and a bit of a knuckle head that resides in Massachusetts. Through time jump, we learn and establish his love life with Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Unfortunately, thanks in part to a massive storm, an oil tanker is trapped 10 miles out from the shore. The remainder of the crew (and half of the remaining tanker) are lead by Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) as he desperately bides as much time for the crew until they can be eventually saved by Webber and his brave crew.
The Finest Hours has quite a few issues that set it back from being entertaining. For starters, besides Affleck’s Sybert, majority of the ensemble here is largely forgettable. Pine’s performance is fine, but his character isn’t memorable, nor is his character ever really established outside of the ‘hero’. Yes, they do try, but ultimately Sybert is far more engaging, despite limited screen time. The other ensemble is so by the numbers, it is almost predictable how their performances will go (Eric Bana, for instance).
Among other issues, was a glaring amount of technical issues, primarily in the editing process. Some scenes went on too long, were awkwardly cut, or even held on shots too long, with actors hesitating before camera change. Normally, if this happens once or twice, you shrug it off. It felt like every scene in The Finest Hours had this issue. Furthermore, the pacing suffered incredible, at times moving too quickly and other times snail pacing through parts of the story that weren’t interesting. An instance of this was when the tanker was desperate to find land, before sinking. Then, out of no where, they cut to Miriam, as she yells at Pine’s superior, before driving off and getting into a car accident. Then, out of nowhere, it slipped right back to the oil tanker crew. Instances like this, remove some suspense from the ongoing conflict.
The Finest Hours isn’t all bad. Sets look historic, and have quality production values. As does the special effects, in particular the water effects with the tanker ship being ripped in half. This was pretty to look at, and usually, the scenes involving the tanker crew and Sybert, were the most interesting. However, The Finest Hours wasn’t really about them, but the heroic efforts used to save them. Those efforts were played out more like levels of a video game, rather than actual human attempted issues.
Ultimately, The Finest Hours played out like a Disney sports movie. Characters, while in danger, never suffered from those consequences (or never divulged enough into any consequences) and too many eye rolling moments (four or five moments of singing, people clapping at odd moments) really remove any sort of emotional investment in the film. Sure, the tanker scenes involved great use of special effects, and really had some of the best moments in the film. However, Director Craig Gillespie told another story, and it ended up making the film suffer in effect. Overall, The Finest Hours is not some of Disney’s finest moments.