Following 2014’s charming underdog tale a Million Dollar Arm, Craig Gillespie heads to the turbulent seas off of Cape Cod for his next directorial piece with another Disney drama, The Finest Hours. Based on a real life 1950s rescue mission, this ocean epic stars Chris Pine as heroic Coast Guarder Bernie Webber, and is joined by an impressive cast made up of Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana and Holliday Grainger.
Against a raging sea in one of the worst storms to hit the area in living memory, coast guarder Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and his small team (including Ben Foster’s Richard Livesey) head out into the increasingly dangerous waters to save the survivors of a ripped-in-two oil tanker on the verge of sinking.
Whether it’s sea, air, land or space, rescue epics have always been a consistent force of entertainment for cinema goers. Ramp up the dramatics, give us a hero to cheer for and let us bathe in the over-the-top rollercoaster ride they so often create. On a scale of one to thrilling, The Finest Hours sits somewhere in-between tedious and extremely safe, with a real emphasis on the latter.
Gillespie’s watery drama is typical Disney fodder, ticking all those cliché Micky Mouse boxes you come to expect. A hero (and underdog), a love story and a stirring finale which – despite the lacklustre 100 minutes that preceded it – will probably, still, make you a little teary eyed.
It’s at its best when it’s on the water, and all too Nicholas Sparks when on dry land. Pines’ hero – an understated pretty boy and loyal rule follower – epitomises The Finest Hours’ depressing blandness, as his spiceless romance with soon-to-be wife Mariam (Grainger), carried the film’s attention away from where it should have lied; the sea.
A missed opportunity appeared with Foster and Bana who waited patiently in the wings, yet felt severely underused, as we’re doused with romantic spiel you never feel like caring about, while it’s only Affleck’s Ray Sybert aboard the seemingly doomed tanker who is able to offer a little bit of steeliness to this otherwise lacklustre melodrama.