I have a lot of time for disaster movies, even if some are too ready to scorn the genre. It must be the fact that in times of tranquillity, beta males critisize and in times of peril and disaster, alpha males act. So here is a disaster movie and ‘The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue’, realised by a fine cast (you might even call it an ensemble) and by the hands of a director with an eye for the understated.
The oil tanker SS Pendleton shears in half off the Chatham coast after getting caught in a nor’easter, she is captained by Casey Affleck, who I like as an actor, he has a quietness about him. His second in command is Graham McTavish (also known as ‘that English guy from Rambo IV’). Still with engines and a makeshift rudder, they must guide the stricken lump to a shingle to stave off as much water intake as possible before a possible rescue. Ashore, Chris Pine and his Coastguard team are sent by C.W.O Eric Bana against what appears to be certain death for themselves to conduct a search and rescue operation. Pine leaves behind his new woman Holliday Grainger.
There’s an old fashioned tone to this movie, a box office bomb, with its amiable recreation of the 1950s. There’s a romantic subplot for instance that can be forgiven because of its lack of condescension towards a time when men were strong and silent and women were effete and supportive. Although the movie as a whole can be quite slow, and despite the situation the cast face, you don’t really get too much of a sense of doom or peril. The CGI also took me out of the experience too, even though most of it was masked by the pitch of night – I couldn’t help but feel that most of what I was looking at wasn’t real – this is an important failure. But that said, it was nowhere near as bad as, for example, In The Heart Of The Sea. So although a bit formulaic, I enjoyed the theme of The Finest Hours, its resistance to yell at its audience or pursue a younger demographic and above all, the performances of its cast. It’s good for at least one viewing.
There’s not a huge amount to say about this release. The movie itself is a dark one, set in the blustery Atlantic at night, but it holds up well and details are not lost in the depths of the chaos. At the coastguard headquarters, there’s a nice contrast when Eric Bana and company are commanding the operation, the golden warmth is flush with colour and really highlights Affleck’s situation out there, in gloomy and cold hell.
There are about 20 minutes of extras, broken down into ‘features’, most of which barely crack two minutes. Those are quickly forgotten. Two deleted scenes don’t add much interest although the largest piece, the 15 minute Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story, puts more effort into covering the true story. But all in all, mostly YouTube-sized bites.