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The Finest Hours (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 117 minutes

OK for children

This film starts with Frank Sinatra singing The Huckle Buck. I thought I was the only one still alive who had ever heard this song. Im not sure why this is the song that opens the movie because it was recorded by Frankie in 1949 and the movie is set in February, 1952, when two 500-foot oil tankers were both ripped in half by a huge storm off of Chatham, Massachusetts, stranding their crews.

Well directed by Craig Gillespie, written by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, based on the book by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, the film is gripping with fine special effects, but lags during the final ten minutes. In fact, suddenly the storm and all the effects, like the audio, completely stop, which seems somewhat unrealistic, and the film lags, exacerbated by the music which had, up until then, been a fine addition enhancing the  tension, and becomes maudlin.

Chris Pine does a fine job portraying coxswain Bernie Webber, who was ordered by new (and unrespected) station chief, Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) to quickly assemble a crew and take them out on a small lifeboat designed to carry only 12 people to look for survivors of the SS Pendleton.

Meanwhile, on the Pendleton, chief engineer Raymond Sybert (Casey Affleck) has to take charge of the remaining crew and figure out how to keep what is left of the ship afloat until rescuers arrive (rescuers they never had any reason to believe would arrive since the ocean was so brutally rough).

Thrown in is a real life love story between Bernie and Miriam (Holliday Grainger) that is touching when one learns that it really happened. Stay for the closing credits which show pictures of all the real people. Grainger is almost a dead ringer for the real Miriam.

The best parts of this film, which is in 3D for some reason, are the special effects, especially when the small boat is trying to get out of the Chatham harbor.