The Finest Hours (2016)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainer, John Ortiz & Eric Bana
Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Based on the fascinating true story, The Finest Hours retells the greatest small-boat rescue in Coast Guard history where a deadly storm threatened the lives of countless sailors aboard a sinking oil tanker. Led by Captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine, Star Trek), the determination and actions of his crew would ultimately define unparalleled heroism. Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Ben Foster (The Program), Holliday Grainer (Jane Eyre), John Ortiz (Togetherness) and Eric Bana (Deliver Us from Evil) co-star.
Detailing the frightening 1952 rescue mission off the coast of Cape Cod, The Finest Hours is the latest of Disney’s inspirational tales lifted from the pages of history. In one of his best roles to date, Chris Pine stars as disciplined Coast Guard crewman Bernie Webber whose love for local beauty Miriam Pentinen (Grainer) quickly escalates to a charming engagement. Before long, the seas are struck with a devastating storm that leaves two separate oil tankers split in two with their crews struggling to survive. Tasked with an impossible mission, Webber is dispatched to rescue his fellow seamen with a limited crew and only a small boat as their steed. Juxtaposing between the crew of the sinking ship, led by the resourceful Ray Sybert (Affleck), Webber’s own confrontations with 60-foot waves and the worried citizens on shore, The Finest Hours weaves a historically accurate account that submerges viewers through its increasingly tense circumstances with effective realism. While Pine leads the film with heavy emotion, Grainer’s chemistry with her onscreen beau is equally noteworthy. Meanwhile, Ben Foster, alongside Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body) and John Magaro (Carol), provide powerful supporting performances as Webber’s crew mates while Eric Bana, appearing as Webber’s superior officer is largely forgettable.
Helmed by Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm and Fright Night, the latter released under Disney’s Touchstone Pictures banner), The Finest Hours may appear predictable yet, the exceptional staging of its disastrous sea sequences and uplifting finale greatly outweigh its foreseeable developments. Theatrically released in 3D during the dead of winter, The Finest Hours would prove to be Disney’s first financial failure in a year of other box-office winners for the Mouse House. Unfortunate and grossly unwarranted, The Finest Hours may possess shades of saccharine but ultimately triumphs as an important footnote in Coast Guard history, warmly retold with solid performances and impressive visual effects.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents The Finest Hours with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Cloaked in constant darkness, nighttime sequences on dry land and at sea demonstrate impressive inkiness while skin tones are beautifully handled. Although the film’s color scheme is far from vast, details are sharply identified in wardrobe choices making for an exceptional viewing experience. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, dialogue is always audible with the crashing sounds of the sea’s violent waves making tremendous impact. Bonus features include, Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story (14:10) where Director Craig Gillespie, Authors Michael J. Tougias, Casey Sherman and other key talent discuss the film’s true events with footage lifted from the actual town of Chatham, Massachusetts. In addition, Deleted Scenes (4:28), Brotherhood (1:49), a standard EPK focusing on the camaraderie amongst the male actors, Two Crews (2:02) where the unique circumstances confronted by both crews in the film are briefly detailed and What Is Your Finest Hour? (1:02) where a Coast Guard member retells their most heroic moment are also included. Finally, The Finest Inspiration: The U.S. Coast Guard (1:42) and a Digital HD Code round out the disc’s remaining supplements.
Disney’s commitment to real world underdog tales has paid off once again with The Finest Hours. While its basis may appear predictable from the onset, the emotional subtext and unbelievable odds confronted by the characters gives viewers a thrilling ride that will surely increase one’s appreciation for the fearless members of the Coast Guard. Furthermore, Disney’s high-definition release is a remarkable sight that makes up for its limited bonus features.
Available now from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, The Finest Hours can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.