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Finest Hours, The (3D)


Stars: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, Eric Bana

Director: Craig Gillespie

Having averted a rail disaster in Unstoppable, Chris Pine tackles a maritime crisis in this true story of sea-going heroism. A snowy, stormy night off the coast of Maine in February 1952 generates waves of gigantic proportion, leading to two oil tankers breaking apart on the same night.

Rescuers rush to the aid of one, entailing considerable loss of life, but the other tanker's plight remains unknown until only one boat from a minor coastguard station remains. Even 'crossing the bar' from here to get to the high seas beyond seems an invitation to certain death, but the station commander (Bana) asks Bernie Webber (Pine), whose girlfriend (Britain's Grainger, lipstick immaculate throughout) has just proposed, to take a three-man crew to try to find the stricken vessel.

Meanwhile, on board the tanker, with the captain and officers gone, along with the prow of the ship, the chief engineer (Affleck) takes charge, stops men going to their deaths in lifeboats that would be smashed to pieces, and buys as much time as he can with makeshift repairs. Thirty-three men are left.

The rest of the film switches from tension on the tanker to the tiny coastguard boat battling huge swells in the ocean. Visits to the coast (although Grainger is good in her first Hollywood role), however, are a side issue, and there are too many of them.

The film's star, though, are its CGI effects and these are mostly awe-inspiringly good, as the tanker creaks towards temporary safety aground, and the coastguards, with a broken compass hampering the hunt, battle to reach her. Carter Burwell's music is imposing too, although it sometimes makes dialogue difficult to hear over its crashing brass.

The 12A certificate is somewhat mystifying. I would have thought a 'PG' sufficient in this case.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by FotoKem.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Feb 2016