Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Holliday Grainger
Directed by: Craig Gillespie (“Million Dollar Arm”)
Written by: Scott Silver (“The Fighter”), Paul Tamasy (“The Fighter”), Eric Johnson (“The Fighter”)
Recounting the true story of a coast guard rescue in 1952, “The Finest Hours” tells the story of how Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) led a team off the coast of Cape Cod to save a wrecked ship. It’s a story that, on paper, sounds like a daring, enthralling rescue mission. Unfortunately, in the hands of director Craig Gillespie (“Million Dollar Arm,” “Fright Night”), it doesn’t translate to very inspiring cinema.
Throughout “The Finest Hours,” characters are routinely flat and uninteresting. Speaking in bad Boston accents, the usually solid Chris Pine and Casey Affleck are blank slates who despite being in leadership roles, never truly show qualities that make them endearing. Even one of the more underrated character actors in Ben Foster feels like he’s just reading lines rather than developing a nuanced character. It’s certainly a bad sign when the boat is the most interesting character in the film.
The biggest reason that “The Finest Hours” fails to connect is that there is no way to hook into the narrative. The film opens with a clunky attempt to establish a romantic story, complete with a poorly written script with terrible jokes. From there, anything romantic is a major whiff, with not only a complete lack of emotional connection, but no reason for the central couple to even be together. In an attempt to make Bernie’s fiancée seem like a strong, independent woman, Gillespie and company instead make her shrill and commanding. In that sense, “The Finest Hours,” attempts to show a unique relationship in the context of the 1950’s and instead gives audiences a relationship that has a precarious foundation.
As a tale of rescue, “The Finest Hours” is an interesting enough story of bravery and impressive feats. As a dramatization, the film version lacks any sort of pull – emotional, visual or otherwise. It feels excruciatingly long and each scene is more tedious than the last. Other than a few special effects, “The Finest Hours” lacks in just about everything else it brings to the screen.