The Finest Hours Review

The Finest Hours
  • Directing6
  • Writing6
  • Acting5.5

Craig Gillespie's The Finest Hours is wet mess, soaked with stale performances and a one-dimensional story that tries (and fails) to capture the heroics of The Coast Guard. They deserve a better movie.


Craig Gillespie‘s latest film The Finest Hours is a disappointing mess, failing to capture the selfless bravery of one of the most daring U.S. Coast Guard missions ever accomplished, despite the help of Chris Pine‘s perfectly sculpted hair and an endless supply of supporting characters, played by the likes of Casey Affleck, Ben Foster and even Eric Bana.

Unfortunately, The Finest Hours cracks under pressure, much like the ship in need of help, due to heavy amounts bullshit weighing down the film, by means of questionable performances and a script that never manages to capture any of the emotion of the film’s story.

The year is 1952 and a terrible blizzard has destroyed two oil tankers off the coast of Cape Cod. One man (played by Chris Pine) is assigned to gather a crew and go out and perform one of the most dangerous and brave (and beyond moronic) rescue missions ever attempted by The Coast Guard.

It’s a true act of bravery, played with an incredible amount of questionable cheese by the usually-dependable Chris Pine.

Unfortunately for Pine, us and the rest of the world — The Finest Hours just doesn’t pan out.

Craig Gillespie‘s direction is beyond puzzling, creating moments of questionable stupidity and doubt when we should be rallying behind our leading men about to go out at sea.

But Gillespie captures the performances with an undeniable amount of ignorance, to the point of making you as an audience member question the mental stability of more than half of the crew. Was this intentional? I don’t believe so, but I don’t actually know the real-life story that this film is based upon and instead decided to approach the film as a piece of entertainment that could also possibly inform me of the situation.

And boy was I wrong.

From a technical standpoint, The Finest Hours features some mildly entertaining action sequences that are occasionally made better through the use of 3D, but most of the film’s at-sea moments are spent inside the ships, focusing on the struggle of the crew.

That’s fine and almost appreciated, but Gillespie fails to actually capture their struggle and convey their emotions in a way that makes a lick of sense. Everyone is either scratching their head at their every decision or blindly arguing against someone else when an idea is brought up to help secure their rescue.

It’s an odd feeling watching these men bicker and fight back and forth for no good reason.

We never are told why half the crew dislikes Casey Affleck‘s character and constantly votes against him when he clearly knows what he’s doing when it comes to keeping the ship from sinking into oblivion, yet his fellow seamen continue to doubt his every move.

Meanwhile, Pine’s character is stuck between a rock and a hard place when he tries asking his superior officer permission to marry his newfound sweetheart, amongst the pressure of a full-on blizzard that’s taking the town by storm.

Why is asking for Eric Bana‘s permission suddenly more stressful and important than saving dozens of men at sea? Especially when you’re a member of The Coast Guard.

I mentioned earlier that the film tells the story of one of the most moronic rescues in history and that’s because Gillespie paints that picture, swapping out the emotional connections that come with acts of bravery for a feeling of hesitation as you watch a man accept a mission that pretty much everyone else is telling him he shouldn’t do. And he doesn’t do it out of his love of the job, but instead out of his lack of understanding what he’s about to face. Or at least that’s how Gillespie conveys it.

It’s strange focuses like this that make Gillespie’s film almost work as a low-key comedy. Is everyone in on some joke that the audience is completely unaware of?

And why does Ben Foster keep snickering at Pine’s character one minute, only to flash him the deadliest of stink eyes moments later?


The Finest Hours ultimately cracks under the pressure of a script without a director and a cast of actors struggling to find the right tone. Pine is clearly just as confused as us as he finds difficulty in the simplest of things, while taking on a hundred foot wave appears to be second nature to him.

Eric Bana might slide under the radar with the film’s most “normal” performance, only because he spends most of the film’s running time screaming into a radio, trying to act like he’s not as confused as everyone else in the room.

There’s just no gauging this film. Is it serious? Is it silly? Is the 3D supposed to matter at all? I’m not quite sure, but I do know that Disney rightfully dumped this film in the cold winters of January, because The Finest Hours is as lifeless as they come, failing to make an impact larger than a raindrop, despite having an entire ocean of talent, scenery and resources to make a truly inspiring tale.

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