|Waves of water and nostalgia wash over the drenched and drippy “The Finest Hours,” a Norman Rockwell painting tossed into stormy CGI seas.|
The disaster drama, directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl,” “Million Dollar Arm”), is a movie of curious contrasts: an unabashedly old-fashioned and overwhelmingly vanilla tale of awe-shucks-ing, double-dating 1950s seamen, told with the modern 3-D effects of your average end-of-the-world movie.
It’s about the 1952 rescue mission — a true story — of a four-man boat of Coast Guardsmen sent from Cape Cod to save the crew of the USS Pendleton, an oil tanker that a brutal winter storm has broken in half off the coast of Nantucket.
“The Finest Hours” provides more working-class New Englanders bobbing in churning nor’easter currents for those who have been patiently waiting for another wave to catch since 2000’s “The Perfect Storm.” Here again is that formula of maritime adventure and Massachusetts accents (some believable, some that sink).
This one has an Affleck. Playing the assistant engineer Ray Sybert on the Pendleton is Casey Affleck, who moodily skulks over pipes and valves in the engine room for much of the film. More knowing than his fellow shipmen, he attempts to convince them how to steer what’s left of the tanker to safety.
On land is Chris Pine’s Bernie Webber, a timid, do-gooding Guardsman stationed in Chatham. The setting could hardly be more innocent; early scenes show Bernie’s courtship of the red-haired Miriam (the radiant Holliday Grainger): seeds of sentimentality to fuel the action to come.
It’s just when they’re making their wedding plans that the storm sets in, news of the tanker’s distress spreads and Eric Bana’s ill-informed commanding officer dispatches Bernie into the freezing surf to search for survivors. His most notable companion is a near-silent sailor played by the arresting Ben Foster, who appears to have made a bet to say as few words as possible throughout the film. The central foe to the rescue is the crushing waves at the sand bar (“Tha Bahhh”) that Bernie must miraculously navigate.
Parallels between Bernie and Ray mount as the film toggles between them; both are intelligent workers — card-carrying members of “the greatest generation” — thrown into impossible situations by foolhardy supervisors. With wet bangs hanging over their determined faces, they brave the storm with ingenuity and gumption, gritting their way through sheets of cold rain.
“The Finest Hours,” written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, has the feeling of a movie that’s been stripped down to its bare clichés. That’s not an altogether bad thing. The film’s lean, classical simplicity is also its greatest asset. Gillespie’s movie lacks even the slightest pretension and features only the occasional flourish (notably a tracking shot from shipman to shipman as a message is relayed from the deck to the engine room).
It’s a smooth-sailing ship without leaky holes, yet not much inspiration to fill its sails, either.
“The Finest Hours,” a Walt Disney Co release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “intense sequences of peril.” Running time: 117 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
On a mild winter Monday night in Hollywood, the freezing cold was very much front and center at the TCL Chinese for the world premiere of Disney’s “The Finest Hours.”
Pine, Webber in a 1952 winter rescue, said the shoot was more taxing than most.
“Days blurred into the next — it was just very cold and very wet for a long time, and you just kind of got through it,” he mused. “I donít know of anyone who likes being cold, but you get used to it for awhile.”
Pine admitted that being in “The Finest Hours” did give him a small sense of what the Coast Guard rescuers endured in saving the lives of 32 men from an oil tanker that had split in two during a massive storm off the coast of Cape Cod.
“If there’s a ligamental connection between us and the guys that went through it, it’s that we’re kind of overwhelmed by so much going on at once,” Pine said.
LOS ANGELES: A movie based on the long-running “The Little House on the Prairie” television series is in the works at Paramount Pictures, which picked up the project in turnaround.
Sony Pictures had launched development of the project in 2012 with Scott Rudin attached to produce. The title was put into turnaround last year after Amy Pascal stepped down as co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment with Tom Rothman replacing her.
Variety reported in June that Rothman had axed the “Little House” project due to concerns about its proposed $45 million budget.
Sean Durkin is attached to direct from a script by Abi Morgan. His credits include “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
LOS ANGELES: Andrey Ivchenko has joined Vin Diesel in “XXX: The Return of Xander Cage,” sources tell Variety.
He boards the sequel, which has already cast Jet Li, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose and Deepika Padukone. The actioner is directed by D.J. Caruso and also stars Samuel L. Jackson, who is returning to reprise his role.
Inchenko will play one of the bad guys Diesel faces off against.
Joe Roth is producing the movie with his new partner Jeff Kirschenbaum, along with Diesel and his producing partner/sister, Samantha Vincent.
The original movie starred Diesel as an extreme sports athlete recruited to be a spy and use his unique skillset to stop a global terrorist. The film grossed $142 million domestically. A sequel followed in 2005, but it was made without Diesel and underwhelmed at the box office.
LOS ANGELES: On the heels of an Oscar nomination for his performance in “Creed,” Sylvester Stallone has been tapped by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for this year’s Montecito Award. The honor will be presented following a career retrospective on Tuesday, Feb 9.
“Sylvester Stallone’s performance in ‘Creed’ has reminded us of what a true talent he is and what a joy it is to share in his successes as the many beloved characters he has created,” said SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. “Since he first hit the silver screen as Rocky Balboa nearly four decades ago, he has been a force in the industry both on film and behind the scenes. He is a true legend in our field.” (Agencies)
By Jake Coyle