Movie Review – ‘The Finest Hours’

“An intense, gritty story of determination and survival highlights the Coast Guard’s greatest small-boat rescue in its history.”

Patrick King, REEL

Finest Hours

Based on the book “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue” by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, this thriller crashes a nor-easter storm along the upper East Coast against brave souls who must fight for their lives to survive. Craig Gillespie, director of the inspirational 2014 baseball film “Million Dollar Arm”, once again teams up with Disney to introduce audiences to a remarkable true story about overcoming long odds.

Set in Massachusetts during 1952, this white knuckle high seas adventure follows the young romantic life of U.S. Coast Guardsman Bernie Webber. Effortlessly depicted by Chris Pine (“Star Trek Into Darkness”), Boatswain Mate First Class Webber must answer his nation’s call during hurricane force winds in an attempt to save dozens of lives aboard to a tanker offshore in distress.


Ocean fishing in my family’s boat growing up in Oregon, I saw the U.S. Coast Guard’s dedication and professionalism first-hand. Many times we crossed the Siuslaw River bar, just north of Florence, venturing out into the Pacific in less-than-ideal conditions. Every time, the Coast Guard’s 44-foot motor lifeboat ran escort for us—operating only two or three boat-lengths away—to ensure we didn’t experience mechanical problems or take a crashing rogue wave to our side.

The U.S. Coast Guard, with their motto Semper Paratus (“Always Ready”), is a military branch also charged with domestic maritime duties. In “The Finest Hours” we see less than a handful of “Coasties” from Coast Guard Station Chatham courageously risk it all so that others might live. The film’s realism expands beyond the violent sea conditions, where massive ships are torn apart into pieces. Inside the breakers, we find the small town characters humble, carrying heavy hearts, and always willing to help complete strangers.


“The Finest Hours” high tide mark is the survival story of a crew adrift at sea and those tapped to attempt a risky rescue mission. The movie’s low point is the romantic angle between Pine’s boat driver character Webber and his girlfriend/fiancée Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Easily, the most realistic relationships and interpersonal communications take place a few miles offshore.

An intense, gritty story of determination and survival highlights the Coast Guard’s greatest small-boat rescue in its history. Aside from an underwhelming love connection and incomplete character development, “The Finest Hours” provides a compelling date night adventure that highlights the selfless first responders protecting and saving lives along our coastlines. This movie’s exceptional realism offers up the maritime dangers that exist while showcasing the few souls charged to respond with steady sea legs. And for that, we’re all grateful.

Grade: B

“The Finest Hours” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril.  Its running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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