Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Rated: MA15+

DURING the Sydney to Hobart yacht race a few years ago, most Australians watched in horror at how relentless and unforgiving the power of a storm at sea can be.

Throughout The Perfect Storm I thought about the men who drowned in that race.

This film gives a glimpse of how the waves at the beachside can become a destructive force of unimaginable power.

Based on a true story, Billy Tyne (played by George Clooney) is a professional fisherman in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Just home from a long fishing expedition, his catch is less than what it should be. Even though winter is approaching, Tyne decides to prepare his boat the “Andrea Gail” and go out again, this time to the rich fishing grounds of the Flemish Cap. The crew all sign on. Wives, mothers and girlfriends bid them an anxious goodbye.

The fishing goes well, but on the trip home the “Andrea Gail” sails into one of the largest storms ever tracked by the US weather bureau. Tyne and his men, a sailboat, the Coast Guard and a rescue helicopter find themselves in the centre of Hurricane Halloween.

This is a disaster film and as such the plot is thin, the characters are two-dimensional and the emphasis is on the action. Director Wolfgang Petersen has reassembled his team from Air Force One for The Perfect Storm. What this team did in the skies with the presidential jet, they take to the depths in this film.

The animatic special effects are brilliant. Clooney and company work hard too. On the whole, even with some corny lines, The Perfect Storm gets it right.

But there are a few problems. We can forgive the poor plot and weak characters because everyone going to see this film knows it is about a huge storm at sea, but why then does it take 75 minutes for the storm to hit? There are some gaps in the plot too. If you count the sunrises, the “Andrea Gail” is out at sea for three nights before they are caught in the storm. During these days we see the weather bureau predicting the force and direction of the storm. How is it that the fishing boat’s crew only realise 12 hours before they encounter the hurricane what they are up against?

There is, however, a good lesson in The Perfect Storm. What drives Tyne and his men to take on the storm, even to the point of death, is greed and pride. This film is good material upon which all of us can ponder.

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