On February 18, 1952, a deadly nor'easter struck New England, powerful enough to crack two T-2 tankers in half. One, the SS Pendleton headed to Boston, trapped 30 sailors in the sinking stern. The senior officer, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) takes charge of the crew and works through a myraid of difficulties and crew differences to ride out this massive storm. The Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts hears of the disaster and Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), but has already dispatched their more seasoned crew members to assist the other tanker. As a result, he orders his “second-team” crew to assist the Pendelton. Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and three others set out in a small Coast Guard boat facing 60 foot high waves, hurricane force winds, and bitter cold. To complicate the rescue mission even more, the compass is lost after a wave crashes into the boat and submerges it for a short time.
We enjoyed the work of the actors, and especially loved the performances of Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. On the other hand, we had a severe dislike for Eric Bana, which shows that the actors did a good job of developing their characters. Holliday Grainger (Miriam) was believable as a strong and determined woman of the 50s, yet maintained a charming way about her. I enjoyed the accents, with the southern tilt of Eric Bana falling hard on the ears next to the soft Bostonian drawl of Chris Pine. Casey Affleck mumbled through much of the early dialogue, but his character and his voice gained strength as the film progressed. I enjoyed the parallel characterization of Chris and Casey, as each starts out as quiet and unassuming. As the story moves to its climax, their determination and intensely strong convictions add to the tension. In was fun to watch their ingenuity at solving the unexpected problems, including the frantic game of “telephone” on board the SS Pendelton in a last ditch effort to ground the ship. Some of the minor story threads were awkward and under-developed, including the relationship of Bernie and Miriam, the stubbornness of Daniel Cluff, and an unsuccessful Coast Guard attempt to rescue the crew of a boat several years previous.
The film was shown in 3D, which did little to enhance the film. There were a couple of great moments, when the snow is falling and it looks like it is coming at you, but overall, the film did not need the 3D effect to make the movie outstanding. If anything, it created an unnecessary challenge in watching the already dark night scenes.
I was wowed by the cinematography. The blizzard was well-filmed and the ocean scenes were large and dramatic. While as an adult it feels rather "safe" for a disaster film, this is one that the whole family can see. The rescue itself is daring, and you may find yourself holding your breath and closing your eyes!