The Perfect Storm (2000) Directed by Wolfgang Peterson. With George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, John Hawkes, Mary Elizabeth Matrantonio, John C. Reilly, William Fichtner, Allen Payne, Karen Allen, Michael Ironside and Bob Gunton.
Coming three years after Titanic, in which James Cameron made true-life sea disaster so bankable, Wolfgang Petersen, the director of Das Boot, returns to the high seas for this biographical disaster drama film, based on events surrounding a crew of fisherman and their vessel, the Andrea Gail.
With a cast of scruffy looking well knowns, captained by the ever distinguished George Clooney, Petersen’s film has a suitably gritty, working class look to it. Time is taken establishing the characters, giving us insight into their various personal lives. Sharing dual top billing with Clooney, the main arc of the narrative focuses on Mark Wahlberg’s character and his relationship with his girlfriend, played by Diane Lane.
From a visual standpoint, the film is a success. The ferocity of the dramatic ocean waves make for an intimidating sight, and for some breathtakingly suspenseful action. However, just how true to life the events in film are, is anyone’s guess. From a bizarre shark attack, to a perilous fishing accident – it’s difficult to ascertain. While the action does it’s job, the script around it is a little thin, which is partially papered over by the quality of the impressive cast.
Although the script only permits limited depth in terms of character, the most ill-judged aspect of the film is the tone of its overly regal, patriotic sounding score. On its own, James Horner’s music is perfectly fine, but its broad strokes convey gallantry in a way that seems overstated.
The Perfect Storm isn’t a million miles away from being a very good film. In terms of character, it begins promisingly, then shuns personality in favour of spectacle. When the end comes, it’s an oddly empty feeling. You can’t help but to be immersed, to some extent, by the battle between man and nature, but it’s impact is lessened by not being allowed to be more invested. 3/5