Review: Dive Into “The Finest Hours,” The True Story of An Epic Rescue

TheFinestHours Chris Pine 1

Bring your galoshes and raincoats to see Disney’s “The Finest Hours.” According to the film’s director, Craig Gillespie, you’re meant to feel the soggy, cold fury mother nature unleashed on the east coast February 18, 1952.

“The Finest Hours” recreates one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s most heroic small boat rescues on record.  Brian Webber (Chris Pine) is a rule-follower, clean cut, 50’s young man who embodies the best qualities of the era: loyalty, courage, and bravery.

The Finest Hours Coast Guard Boat

However, he’s not the most seasoned member of the Coast Guard the night he was tasked with the impossible rescue mission. Instead of avoiding almost-certain-death during one of the worst nor’easter’s to hit New England Bernie Webber, and an inexperienced crew of three, took the only boat available to them, a 36-foot motorized wooden boat, and battled the ferocious 60-foot seas. They saved 32 of the 33 men stranded at sea in the wreckage of the oil tanker the Pendleton which had split in half during the storm.

“In the Coast Guard they say you have to go out… They don’t say you have to come back in.” Brian Webber, Petty Officer, First Class, U.S. Coast Guard

Chief Engineer, Raymon Syber (Casey Afflack), takes the lead to save the men on board the remaining half of the tanker still afloat. In an incredible feat of engineering, the crew manages to direct the rudderless iron beast and run it aground on a sandbar in the middle of the ocean hoping to gain time for rescuers to find them.

This remains today the most historic small boat rescue of all time and it has been brought to the big screen in “The Finest Hours.”

Adding to the drama is Webber’s fiancé, Miriam (Holliday Granger), who during the course of the movie realizes what it will take to be married to a man who is loyal to the sea.

The filmmakers had the distinct pleasure of working with two of the remaining survivors: Andy Fitzgerald and Mel Guthro. Their recollections of this event helped with the authenticity of both the story and the look of the film. Original parts from tankers used at that time were sourced and brought in to recreate the Pendleton for this movie.

The Finest Hours Pendleton Tanker

Gillespie was at the Coronado Film Festival for a screening of this movie.

Craig Gillespie and James Whitaker at CIFF 2016. Photo S. Valle

Craig Gillespie and James Whitaker at CIFF 2016. Photo S. Valle

During a Q&A led by film critic Leonard Maltin, he told the audience that over 80,000 gallons of water were used to film scenes with the waterlooged  actors  who spent the majority of the time filming in completely soaked conditions.

The nostalgic 50’s look of the film, from the cars to the beautiful costumes combined with the 3D effects, will transport and immerse movie-goers into a dripping two hour drama that will keep you at the edge of your seats.

I truly enjoyed watching “The Finest Hours.” Movies like this one make me reassess what I’m willing to do for others. But more importantly, I walked away from this film in complete amazement knowing that there are men and women who put their lives on the line every day to save the lives of others.

“The Finest Hours” is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars Chris Pine, Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz and Eric Bana. Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, the film, which transports audiences to the heart of the action, creating a fully-immersive cinematic experience on an epic scale, storms into theaters on January 29, 2016.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril

Runtime 1 hour 57 minutes


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