Credit: Claire Folger

What happens when you take a harrowing maritime yarn like The Perfect Storm and filter it through the Disney strainer? You get something like The Finest Hours, an intermittently affecting, sanded-edge adventure that feels as if it trundled off the studio production line back when Eisenhower was in office. Based on a daring 1952 Coast Guard rescue off of Cape Cod, the film stars Chris Pine as an aw-shucks, by-the-book Coastie who’s torn away from his fiancée (a winningly feisty Holliday Grainger) when a nor’easter rips an oil tanker in half like a dinner roll. Certain death awaits, but duty calls. And Pine’s vanilla hero is just the fella to accept the charges on that call, no questions asked. Directed by Craig Gillespie, the man behind the Mouse House’s equally square baseball-goes-to-Mumbai melodrama, Million Dollar Arm, the film cuts back and forth between Pine and his intrepid crew’s heroic navigation past skyscraper-size breakers (at night…without a compass…) and the squabbling but resourceful crew aboard the doomed, listing tanker (led by Casey Affleck, whose pulse barely rises above narcolepsy when he isn’t busy mumbling unintelligibly). While its first-act romance has a sweetly nostalgic, Andy Hardy glow, and its high-seas action sequences are mildly thrilling, The Finest Hours ultimately feels too harmless and predictable to fully surrender to. In fact, the only thing that’s new about it is its marketing hook: Finally, disaster porn that’s safe enough for the whole family. C+

The Finest Hours
  • Movie
  • 114 minutes