Chris Pine (Star Trek, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) plays Bernard Webber, a member of the United States Coast Guard stationed on Cape Cod. On a cold winter’s day in 1952, a blizzard blows in off the Atlantic Ocean, and two oil tankers, the SS Pendleton and the SS Mercer, are heavily damaged and begin to sink. Bernard is sent out with several comrades from the Coast Guard station (Casey Affleck, Ben Foster) are charged with rescuing the crew of the stricken Mercer. It was one of the most dangerous and daring rescues in the entirety of the Coast Guard’s history (yes, this is one of those ‘based on a true story’ movies). And all the while, Bernard’s fiancé Miriam (Holliday Granger, The Borgias) anxiously hopes he will return home safely.
The Finest Hours has all the standard disaster movie tropes and clichés. There’s peril, there’s the overwhelming power of nature destroying the works of man, more peril, lots of visual suspense, heart-pounding suspense, even more peril… you get the idea. Like I said, it’s a very predictable genre and you always know what you’re going to get.
But where this movie falls flat is the character of Miriam. It’s not that Holliday Granger is a bad actress, but rather that her entire character is completely pointless and superficial to the film. She does absolutely nothing that affects the plot of the movie in any way, and most of her time on screen is spent worrying about her fiancé who we know we get back safely (like I said, all the standard tropes and clichés). In fact, you could completely cut out every scene she is a part of and it would be nearly the exact same movie. In fact, it would probably be a better movie because it would be significantly more streamlined and more action-packed, instead of boring us with unneeded romantic drama- that’s not why people go see disaster movies.
As to why the filmmakers elected to insert such an unnecessary character into this movie, I’m not sure. Perhaps they thought that adding a love interest would help to make the scenes of peril more suspenseful (it didn’t). Perhaps they thought that the internet’s social justice warriors would criticize the movie if it didn’t have any female characters (now they’ll criticize it for having a complete useless female character). Whatever the reason, it drags down what would have otherwise been an unremarkable but passing disaster flick into a slightly worse mediocre disaster flick. I guess the bar’s already pretty low with this one.