The Finest Hours, directed by Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm), is based on the true story about an impossible rescue mission of a four man crew in the Coast Guard. On Feb. 18, 1952, a wicked storm puts a crack in the hull of the Pendleton T2 oil tanker, causing the large ship to literally split in half while at sea.
The film is slow to develop in the beginning, since the plot starts with the main character, Bernie Webber (played by Chris Pine), going on a first date with his future wife Miriam (Holliday Grainger). With a sense of awkwardness in the initial interaction between Bernie and Miriam, the viewer wonders what the significance of this relationship is to the story, since nothing important seems to be happening.
Of course, a romantic element of the film is a driving force throughout the story, but the action scenes and visual effects Gillespie uses will leave the viewer saying ‘wow’ or ‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’ at least once.
Once they’ve heard word of the splitting oil tanker, Bernie tasks together his rescue team of the three other men, including Richard (Ben Foster), Fitz (Kyle Gallner), and Ervin (John Magaro). Due to not having much time in an effort to still save the men stuck on half of the ship, they take a smaller boat, and when I say small, picture the size of a bus to that of the Titanic. The ratio might not be perfect, but you get the idea.
Imagine a boat that small of size crashing, diving, rolling, and submerging itself to the large scale of blistering cold waves. Were these overly extreme conditions that Bernie and his crew underwent in the film misleading and unbelievable? Yes because I didn’t understand how no one got hypothermia at any point, but the visual effects were still mind blowing at times and enjoyable to watch.
Sexist jokes against both men and women, juvenile rules, and an overall low capacity for open mindedness are a few examples of the social norms that existed back in the 50s. Miriam is a woman who breaks each of these cases, specifically by being the one to ask Bernie to marry her. Even though a woman asking a man for their hand in marriage is still not common, Miriam doesn’t act as a woman “should.” She’s a refreshing spin on the definition of an independent woman and it was nice seeing her character during this time period.
The best aspect of this film for me was the portrayal of Bernie and how Pine did an absolutely impressive job at selling the decency and simplicity of his character. Bernie is quiet and can be pushed aside at times by his superiors in the Coast Guard since he is still lower in rank. It’s great though, because Bernie is the underappreciated character who is so admirable with his golden heart and moral compass; you can’t help but want to see him succeed.
The Finest Hours is simple in a way. The film touches on finding love and doing what you can to build the best life possible, but I thought there was more to it. Bernie’s bravery, along with the rest of the men in the film, is something everyone should strive for in growing as a person and I think this film has that effect.