An old fashioned tale told in a linear and straight forward no-nonsense fashion, clean cut with no grey areas or moral dilemmas.
1952 Cape Cod Massachusetts one of the worst storms ever to hit the East coast rips the oil tanker SS Pendleton in half. With the remaining crew left stranded on one half of a sinking ship, there is only one hope, the local coastguard.
Meanwhile quiet unassuming “Bernie Webber” (Chris Pine) is plucking up the courage to ask his commanding officer for permission to marry his girlfriend “Miriam Penttinen” (Holliday Grainger). It’s a coastguard tradition thing, the permission part not marrying Miriam.
When the distress call comes in, the commander of the watch “Daniel Cluff” (Eric Bana) having already dispatched his main crew to attend another ship in distress, requests Bernie to pull a crew together. Bearing in mind the only available boat is a CG36500 Motor Boat 36 feet long with capacity for around 16 survivors, this is a big ask.
The seas were estimated to be sixty feet high and the tiny lifeboat had to negotiate a treacherous bar, just to get to open sea. Essentially this was all but a suicide mission, one would question the sanity of the commander to send his volunteers to their potential deaths in the first place.
A motley crew put their hands up to go, Richard Livesley (Ben Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner), and Ervin Maske (John Magaro).
On board the sinking tanker they have problems of their own, Ray Syberg (Casey Affleck) the most unlikely of leaders manages to pull the all but mutinous crew together to await rescue but will it come in time, or at all?
The film has created the engine room of the ship in great detail and action scenes filmed there are tense, exciting and well staged. Back on land the action is a bit more stodgy until we get to sea and again the effects are state of the art as the tiny boat is thrown around like a child’s toy.
The film does not dwell too deeply on motivation for the characters, Bernie is square jawed and stoic. People need to be saved and that is his job to try, with scant regard for his own safety and future. There are no doubts or 21st century existential dilemmas, Bernie is portrayed as a straight out hero.
Pine just about makes this a real character, Grainger gets to be feistyin a 1950’s sort of way, but the stand out is Affleck who again shows he may well emerge as the bigger star from the Affleck family, acting wise at least.
Not the best film you will see this year, occasionally a bit plodding in parts and somewhat staid. But if a 1950’s set film, filmed in the style of the era yet with state of the art effects floats your lifeboat, then well worth a look.
A thoroughly old fashioned tale told in a very traditional style, produced by Disney but with a hard enough edge to be worthwhile.
An amazing story and a reasonable tribute to the brave crew of CG36500, quite rightly now part of US coastguard legend.