Based on a true story, the movie “The Finest Hours” is a following of the event in 1952 of a Coast Guard crew rescue of the oil tanker, the SS Pendleton, that was ripped in half by a horrible storm. While extraordinarily dramatic, most of this movie is pretty factual.
In fact, TIME magazine (link is a spoiler) did a fact check on the truth behind this movie and most of the fiction simply revolved around the main character and his love interest, which was overall not a huge factor in the movie.
Knowing the truth of this movie really adds to the impact of it. For example, the situations are so dire and the challenges so difficult that it seems miraculous how many people made it through. Knowing these miracles truly occurred only enhance the movie’s effect on its viewer.
Additionally, the acting in the movie was well done by the main characters. However, the story did not develop the supporting characters as much as it could have. For example, it did not give a lot of development from the characters on the SS Pendleton and if it had, it may have raised the stakes more for the viewer.
The special effects in this movie were pretty well done overall. However, the picture was very dark or at least gray for a majority of the film. While this is understandable when the characters were on boats at night, even the beginning portions in the Coast Guard station were a little too dark and gray. While it could have been mood lighting, to some degree I think it took away from how powerful the movie could have been.
A variety in lighting would have shown more of a contrast between the catastrophes at sea in comparison to the smaller struggles being faced on land, despite the huge storm affecting both areas. Even a contrast between the storm on land verses at sea would have helped. There were some short blizzard shots on land and those were the brightest scenes in the film, but there could have been more.
The storm is what really established a sense of emergency in the movie, however, which propelled the movie forward. The movie showed the struggles of both the men stuck at sea and the struggles faced by the men heading to rescue them. This was a distinguishable characteristic that made the storyline stand out.
Overall, this movie really keeps you on your toes, as the whole second half of the movie is almost completely action-oriented. What really enhances this movie is being reminded that this event really happened and there were men who volunteered their lives to try to save up to 30 men stuck on an oil tanker.
Honestly, while it added some character development, the movie did not even need the main character’s romantic relationship to be altered for dramatics. The excitement of the film came from both its truth and sense of emergency.
I give “The Finest Hours” 3 out of 5 stars.