Disney presents the true story of the most daring rescue in Coast Guard history. When a pair of oil tankers split in two during a blizzard off the coast of Massachusetts in 1952, the Coast Guard send ships to rescue the men of the first tanker, not realizing there is a second tanker in trouble. When the second tanker is discovered, it is up to a small boat of four men to attempt the rescue.
That's the premise and the scenes at sea are exhilarating, the special effects, cinematography, and acting all combine to put you in the action. The central part of the film is when it's at it's best. Switching the action from the men trapped on the sinking ship to the men in the rescue boat fighting monster waves and horrible conditions, you can't imagine how a rescue can be attempted. It's the sappy set up and ending however, that is what's really waterlogged.
Chris Pine stars as Bernie Webber, the skipper of the rescue boat and the film starts with a building romance between Bernie and Miriam, played by Holliday Grainger. The script emphasizes the relationship to help create additional tension once Miriam is safely back on shore worried about her man at sea. Mr. Pine is a fine stoic leader. Having already played Captain Kirk in multiple Star Trek films, he is at home behind the wheel leading his men on their perilous mission. It's his scenes with Ms. Grainger that are awkward and dull. Ms. Grainger plays the the worried girlfriend admirably taking many of her scenes over the top.
Ben Foster costars as Bernie's second in command but his fine talents are wasted in an empty role. Kyle Gallner and John Magaro are the other two members of Bernie's crew, who spend most of their time tossed about by the storm whipped sea. Eric Bana is also wasted as the Coast Guard commander with no scenes of real depth. On board the sinking ship, Casey Affleck plays Ray Sybert, the chief engineer of the tanker, who rallies the crew to stave off the the storm waters that will soon drown them all. Mr. Affleck is painfully dull and maybe that what the role called for but he is out of his dramatic element in this part.
The film never steers of course. The rescue itself, while exciting, is straight forward storytelling. I applaud Disney for making the film as it honors the real men involved in this little known story but the script is too sanitized to truly recreate the heightened emotions and actions of everyone involved in this daring rescue.