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The Finest Hours' Gets it Right

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"The Finest Hours" tells the true story of the most daring rescue mission in U.S. Coast Guard history, but how does it measure up as a film?

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**The following is an in-depth review of “The Finest Hours” and does contain spoilers.**

Based on a true story, "The Finest Hours" tells the story of the 1952 Pendleton Rescue, still considered the Coast Guard's most daring rescue mission to this day.

On Feb. 18, 1952 two oil tankers - the SS Fort Mercer and the SS Pendleton - were both split in two off the coast of Massachusetts due to a massive nor'easter. The Pendleton lost its radio and was unable to send a mayday before her captain was killed, thus excluding them from search efforts that were sent out after the Fort Mercer.

By chance, the Pendleton was spotted from land by a passerby who immediately informed the Coast Guard station of the ship in distress. With most of their resources out looking for the Fort Mercer, the station's commanding officer had no choice but to send a lone rescue boat - manned only by a crew of four - out to rescue the Pendleton.

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Chris Pine plays Petty Officer First Class Bernie Webber, a member of the United States Coast Guard assigned to the station at Chatham, Massachusetts. Bernie is liked well enough around the town, but isn't very respected for his seamanship. It seems a few years ago Webber was in command of a rescue mission that ended less than ideally, and the general consensus was that his poor decision-making was to blame.

Webber is a different character than Pine usually plays. He's the complete opposite of James Kirk. Webber is shy, indecisive, maybe a little insecure and Pine plays it with just as much believability and sincerity as he brings to James Kirk, who isn't any of that. This role definitely shows Pine's range as an actor.

In addition to Pine, "The Finest Hours" is full of familiar faces, all of whom turn in marvelous performances. Casey Affleck, Eric Bana, Kyle Gallner and Ben Foster all feature prominently in the film.

"The Finest Hours" deals with themes very similar to December's "In the Heart of the Sea," but it deals with those themes much better. Where "In the Heart of the Sea" felt padded and was extremely boring in parts, "The Finest Hours" stays exciting throughout.

The film's special effects are extremely well done. Obviously, all shots of the boats and the water and the waves are all done with CGI, but it isn't obvious CGI. Likewise, you'd be hard pressed to pick out where the action switches between CGI and physical effects done in camera because they're blended so well.

Something I don't often touch on in my reviews is music. "The Finest Hours" features one of the best film scores I've heard in a long time. The music isn't just something happening in the background to have some auditory sensation, but it actually enhances every scene. Composer Carter Burwell - who also scored the films "Mr. Holmes" and "Being John Malkovich," among others - has really outdone himself on this one.

"The Finest Hours" is a very good movie on every level. It's really difficult to find any flaws with it at all that aren't nitpicks, like the fact that no one actually seems cold despite it taking place in the middle of winter. You know they're probably freezing because the shore is covered in snow, but none of the actors actually play cold. Had they, however, it might have actually been a distraction even though it would have added a layer of realism. But that's just a nitpick.

The film is based on a book of the same name by journalist and author Casey Sherman, who published his chronicle of the events in 2009. The film was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

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