Chris Pine and Casey Affleck play two real-life US Coast Guard sailors who saved 32 men from a sinking oil tanker off Cape Cod in the winter of 1952.
A film of two-parts, The Finest Hours plays parallel storylines on land and sea - and only one works. The land-based action tends to be ponderous and takes its time building up Pine's character backstory. By contrast, once the action hits the water, director Craig Gillespie lifts the tempo and melodramatic score.
The rescue of the Pendleton crew is a great survival story, and it's given a respectful, nostalgic treatment, though there are genuinely nail-biting moments as Webber leads three inexperienced seamen on a lifeboat into treacherous seas to try to find the tanker split in two by a horrific storm.
Pine does a good job of giving us a humble, reserved seaman who follows the rules.
But that's about all we get - a nice, squeaky clean American hero. Affleck gets sharper lines while the Pendleton crew deliver solid stereotypes - the larger than life cook, the terrified newbie, the renegade just out to save himself.
The most impressive character is the storm itself. The combination of water tank and CGI footage is impressive, and it's breathtaking when Webber and team attempt to cross the bar.
If you were thinking of viewing this Disney-fied The Perfect Storm in 3D, don't bother. Much of the film is set at night or in miserable, bleak weather, and combined with a muted, moody palette, 3D just doesn't cut through.
The Finest Hours is a handsome film that captures the era nicely, and tells a remarkable story.
Unfortunately the mix of romance, drama and action never comes together cohesively, and a lack of urgency works against what could have been a thrilling film.
Cast: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Eric Bana
Director: Craig Gillespie
Running Time: 117 mins
Verdict: Overly earnest and uneven, but the action at sea is stunning