By Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
The promos say this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. It does.
Even if you do an online search about this true story and know how it ends the story is compelling and is told in a gripping way. The visual imagery really helps with that. While Chris Pine and Casey Affleck get top billing, it’s Holliday Grainger who captures attention as Pine’s feisty fiancée. She’s not a stereotypical 1950s woman in demeanor and attitude which makes for some powerful scenes.
Before the storm arrives Pine asks her to go for a boat ride in the Chatham, Mass., harbor. She confesses to a fear of what’s under all that water. “Just more water,” he says to reassure her. But the big story, obviously, is a Coast Guard rescue mission to find any survivors of an oil tanker that’s been ripped in two. Boatswain’s Mate Bernie Webber (Pine) is dispatched in a launch, not even a cutter-size craft, to the stern half of the tanker.
Affleck is trying to keep the stern afloat in hopes of a rescue. His 32 fellow crew members are not of one mind about what to do. So they pray. But a crewman acknowledges, “praying’s great but we actually have to do something.” And, yes, the punch line of an old joke came to mind: “Pray to God but row for shore.”
The ingenuity and determination of rescuers and those who are rescued is quite impressive and makes for some very exciting scenes. Disney has used some very clever digital imagery to recreate a harrowing experience. You might see which characters display the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder).
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, they both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels