We find something universally appealing in stories of rescue. A story of humans risking their own lives to help other humans lifts our spirits—and perhaps reminds us of the value inherent in each one of us.
So does The Finest Hours—the rescue movie from Disney opening this weekend—deliver?
The movie stars Chris Pine and Casey Affleck and is the true story of the 1952 Coast Guard rescue of men whose oil tanker literally broke in half during a violent storm. The actual story is pretty incredible, considering the odds against the men in the hull of the tanker and the odds against the small Coast Guard boat.
What makes any rescue movie so poignant for the viewer is a connection with the characters. When we bond with a character, we want him to make it. The Finest Hours attempted to do this by giving us some back story on Bernie Webber (played by Chris Pine), the man leading the rescue. But for me, it just wasn’t enough.
I was more interested in Ray Sybert, the man aboard the tanker (played by Casey Affleck) who took charge . The movie hinted at a back story—relationships issues with the crew—but the director instead focused on the action sequences on the boat. In the end, it seemed Sybert’s heroic actions were downplayed.
I’m not giving anything away; it’s a common fact the rescue was successful. The movie is awash (no pun intended) with special effects, but in the end, it was just a boat rescue with no heart connect with the characters.
In an early scene, when the men on the tanker realized they would probably die, they prayed. They gathered together and prayed. After the rescue, one of the men asked Bernie Webber, “So how did you find us so quickly.” Webber replied, “Luck.”
I do not know if the men prayed in the actual event, but it is interesting that Disney showed the men praying in desperation; yet in the end, no acknowledgement is given to what God may have done. In other words, prayer is OK, but it doesn’t really do anything.
The finest hour for those men just may have been when they prayed, turning to God and realizing their need for Him. For me personally, when I am praying, I am at my finest.