January 29, 2016, - 3:23 pm

Weekend Box Office: The Finest Hours

By Debbie Schlussel


It’s rare that Hollywood makes and releases a patriotic, pro-American movie in which White men aren’t evil, racist, greedy villains, but heroic, good Americans who risk their lives to save others. “The Finest Hours,” in theaters today, is that movie. (I did not see “Kung Fu Panda 3” as the screening was on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.)

Chris Pine is Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Bernie Webber of the U.S. Coast Guard who is from and stationed in Massachusetts in 1952. A couple of large oil tankers off the Cape Cod coast are stuck in the middle of a horrible nor’easter storm and blizzard and their crews are desperately in need of rescue. The movie focuses on the crew of the Pendleton, which actually split in half in the Ocean and quickly took on water. Webber is repeatedly warned by his fellow Coast Guard members and his commanding officer (Eric Bana) that it’s too dangerous to go out and rescue the crew and that he should wait until morning. But he insists on going out into the incredibly violent sea and gargantuan waves in the darkness of the middle of the night, risking his life to save the men on the ship. Many say that this is “the Coast Guard’s most daring rescue.”

“The Finest Hours” is a tale of bravery and about how average American men perform well above average–heroically–to save others. That’s something that is at the same time uncommon but also exemplary of the brave American men who’ve served in every branch of the American military and every war. And this movie, too, is a true story. Stay for the credits, as the real-life heroes of the movie are shown onscreen (as well as information regarding what happened to them).

And while Pine as Webber goes to rescue the men in harrowing stormy scenes, we also see how the men on the ship survive, which is also heroic. Casey Affleck plays Ray Sybert, one of the crew of the Pendleton. He warns the men against taking life boats and leaving the ship, saying they will die if they do so. And he needs them if he is going to keep the ship from quickly sinking before they are rescued. The movie shows how Sybert uses science and engineering skills to create a lever with the ship’s machinery and help keep it afloat. But water is pouring in and the boat can only last for so long–how long, they don’t exactly know, and the disaster keeps getting worse.

I saw this movie in 3-D, and it was as if I were there. The scenes of the damage and disaster which occur on the boat while the crew tries to survive, are incredibly real–so real it almost gave me a heart attack. Ditto for the mammoth waves rolling on the ocean surface as Pine/Webber’s relatively tiny rescue motorboat tries to navigate them.

In the backdrop of all of this, there is a romance between Pine/Webber and Miriam (Holliday Grainger), a girl he begins dating. I could’ve done without this story, even though it is true. Miriam asks Bernie to marry her. And on top of that, she approaches his commanding officer to ask his permission (something Bernie is told is necessary by his fellow Coast Guard mates). I know Hollywood loves feminism and women assuming the behavior of men, but I didn’t like it. And I didn’t like her.

Another minor reservation I had with the movie is that parts of it move a little slowly. But through most of it, it’s thrilling, suspenseful, and very realistic. Lots of “action” in terms of what the men on the ship must do to survive and the wild ride the Coast Guard members take on the angry, stormy sea.

I liked that this movie shows what the U.S. Coast Guard does, as it is often an unsung organization, and I believe few Americans understand everything the Coast Guard does.

Again, this is a tale of American heroism–one that Hollywood usually doesn’t like to tell.

The movie is rated PG-13, and is fine to take your whole family to see.


Watch the trailer . . .

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10 Responses

Great review. I wasn’t sure about seeing it at first because a lot of the mainstream liberal critics have been knocking it but your reviews are usually spot on. Minor nit pick . It is Boatswain’s Mate, not Boatsman . I credit you with saving me a lot of money over the last couple years at least.

RN: Thanks. Fixed. DS

Richard Norton on January 29, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    You took the words right out of my mouth! That goes for me too Debbie- Thank you!

    Larry on January 30, 2016 at 7:55 am

“13 Hours” and now “Finest Hours” — Debbie soon may have to reassess her position on January being some sort of cinematic graveyard, which thankfully it is not. I definitely plan to see the new one.

Seek on January 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm

I also liked this movie. Unfortunately I do not seem to enjoy many of the movies that I get to watch. However, I did enjoy this one. Thank You.

NRS on January 30, 2016 at 10:59 am

You really are an excellent movie reviewer! This one I will see, so thanks.

Nancy B on January 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm

A movie isn’t a movie these days unless you have a woman acting like a man.

Leonard Martinez on January 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Saw the movie you didn’t – Kung Fu Panda 3. Quite liked it, even though I had never seen 1 or 2.

Looking at the trailers, I’ll give Angry Birds a pass, whenever it arrives. There was a scene where 2 of the birds gargle water into each others mouths, and if that’s not disgusting enough, that’s followed by a scene where an eagle takes a long piss into the water that they just drank.

Infidel on January 30, 2016 at 11:41 pm

I loved it because it shows how important the CG is in taking care of those that sail on the unforgiving seas. It was great in 3D also. Very entertaining and a good true storyline.

LarryB on January 31, 2016 at 11:48 am

The correct USCG rank of Bernie Webber was Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class (abbreviated as BM1).


BM1(DV) Preston, USNR (RET)

TP: Thanks. My typo mistake. Fixed. DS

Todd Preston on February 1, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks Debbie, since I always slam BHO for saying “corpse men” I’m a stickler for correct Navy rate/ranks!

    Todd Preston on February 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

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