Stars: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Diane Lane
Make no mistake. The storm IS the star of this film. Based on the book by Sebastian Junger, this true tale chronicles a 1991 storm of the century and the lives of a group of Gloucester, Massachusetts sword fishermen who thought they could beat the odds and blast their way home through a maze of hurricanes. You know you’re in for some kind of epic from the big music at the opening scene even though all we see is a boat crossing the water. It’s a little much.
George Clooney plays Billy Tyne a swordfish boat captain who hasn’t exactly been bringing home profitable catches. His crew is as disappointed with their paychecks as they are with Billy. But, determined not to be seen as a loser by his boss or an opposing captain (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Linda Greenlaw), Billy makes the decision to go far out to sea, beyond the Outer Banks in search of a good haul. Mark Wahlberg plays Bobby Shatford, a deeply in love and just as deeply in debt fisherman who takes his leave of Christina (Diane Lane) to join Billy again in his dream catch. John C. Reilly as Dale “Murph” Murphy leaves his ex-wife and beloved young son behind. Sully, Bugsy and Alfred Pierre are the three who join them.
The first part of the film is taken up with scenes of Gloucester life and fairly minor character development. We learn that Billy is divorced with two daughters; he lives for the sea and fishing and has a genial rivalry and attraction to Linda; Bobby loves Christina and fishing; Murph loves his kid and fishing; the others aren’t spotlighted too much but you know they love fishing or in the case of Sully, the promised big money from a super catch.
Out they go into the deep blue sea one day in October, a dangerous time of the year apparently, since there are enough warnings from Christina and Bobby’s mother. Billy’s luck doesn’t change so he keeps going further and further out. There’s a token conflict between Murph and Sully to add spice but we never really know what it’s about. After an accident and a problem on board ship, the crew is starting to get premonitions that maybe it’s a good time to head home, but Billy does his expected pep talk and they’re back on course again. And just as swordfish are finally hopping into their boat, sunny skies turn bleak and here it comes, slowly in pieces at first, but soon we’re in the midst of the most wicked storm effects ever presented on screen.
You’ll want to see this movie for the special effects; that’s what it’s all about. Without the effects, there’s not much of a movie. There are some very harrowing rescue scenes involving a helicopter in the midst of the storm trying to save sailboat victims and overall the storm sequences are exquisitely scary, particularly the one in which Billy’s boat must climb straight up a 50-foot high mountain of water. Otherwise, the characters are pedestrian and the story simplistic.
Lotta says overall, this is good summer fun. Enjoy!