Rain! Thunder! Accents!
Yes, this film oozes testosterone. There's a storm! And acting! Manly, tic-filled acting! The type of acting that puts hair on your chest and takes you out for a nice steak dinner! Besides Bana and Pine, the movie is packed with character actors like Ben Foster, Graham McTavish, and Abraham Benrubi, who all clearly relish the chance to yell over the sound of banging wrenches and bursting pipes.
But most of the capital-A acting comes courtesy of Casey Affleck. Batman's younger sibling has always been a welcome, understated screen presence -- he was excellent in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and in his bro's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone -- but he's never been quite as affect-filled as he is here as first assistant engineer Ray Sybert. He mumbles. He looks at the ground. He slowly cracks an egg as he delivers monologues.
Though it can sometimes seem like he's been parachuted in from a better movie, Affleck is the reason the oil-tanker sections work so well. Unburdened with playing the romantic lead -- one of his shipmates describes him as "practically married" to the boat -- he seems to be channeling the mannered, oddball energy of his I'm Still Here collaborator Joaquin Phoenix. It's the type of strange performance that enlivens an otherwise sinking ship.
Bring on the CGI waves!
And this ship is sinking: Affleck's oil tanker, the S.S. Pendleton, is torn in half by epic, pulsating waves that would make the Red Sea blush. The movie cuts back and forth between Affleck's frantic, jargon filled attempts to keep the tanker afloat and Pine's ragtag group of sailors as they navigate tricky waters in a wooden lifeboat. Luckily, the movie doesn't disappoint on the special-effects front: these CGI waves are big and scary. Pine's boat looks like a crappy jet ski from Wave Race 64 trying to pass through a hurricane. It's occasionally thrilling, and, as it draws closer to the conclusion, the movie does take on a Spielberg-ian grandeur.
"We are too far," Pine tells his crew at one point. "We're not giving up on them. Not on my watch." I don't have kids, but, if I ever do, I know I will force them to watch this scene as it plays on TNT during a rainy Sunday afternoon. I'll tell them how back in my day we had brave actors who spent hours on sound stages getting sprayed by giant hoses. We had real men willing to mess up their hair by wearing knit caps. And then, I'll probably change the channel -- honestly, one trip in these rather predictable waters was enough for me.
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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment and he appreciates a nice cable-knit sweater. He's on Twitter: @danielvjackson.