THE FINEST HOURS – Review by Susan Granger

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Set in 1952, this fact-based rescue-adventure story chronicles the treacherous Coast Guard mission to save the crew of an oil tanker that split apart during a ferocious storm off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In an extended prologue, shy Coast Guard captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and his buddy Gus (Beau Knapp) go on a soda shop double-date. That’s where he meets Miriam (Holliday Grainger), the spunky telephone switchboard operator who becomes his fiancée after she asks him to marry her. Read on…

When a massive nor’ester hits the New England coast, a T-2 oil tanker, the SS Pendleton, bound for Boston, cracks in two, leaving more than 30 men eerily stranded on its sinking stern. As senior officer, first assistant engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) immediately takes charge of the bickering crew.

Meanwhile, at the Coast Guard station, Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) orders Webber and his crew to traverse the notoriously perilous Chatham shoal to rescue the survivors in a motorized, 36-foot wooden boat, facing frigid temperatures, monstrous waves, hurricane-force winds, poor visibility and, eventually, a lost compass.

Based on Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman’s 2009 non-fiction book, it’s confusingly scripted by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson and formulaically directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl,” “Million Dollar Arm”) with Ben Foster and Kyle Gallner lending strong support.

While the authenticity and comprehensibility of the actors’ accents waver, the CGI is impressive, if not immersive. Earnest, resourceful Webber and his crew emerge as true heroes, their understated bravery emphasized by Carter Burwell’s intrusively hokey score.

FYI: Hastily constructed of inferior metal during World War II, T-2 tankers were known as “serial sinkers,” since they often snapped in half during cold weather.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Finest Hours” storms in with a sturdy, seaworthy 6, another old-fashioned profile of courage.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.