“Who wants to go swordfishing?”
This phrase won’t be met with much enthusiasm from anyone who just finished watching The Perfect Storm, which spends much of the time dousing its actors in hurricane waves strong enough to send a man overboard at any second.
Thankfully director Wolfgang Petersen (Outbreak, Air Force One) had the sensibility to cut to what’s happening on the mainland at least once every 15-20 minutes, otherwise the constant beating of the 20′ whitecaps might get a little old after awhile. With this nice balance, the storm special effects create such an immersive environment I would probably have freaked out if I spilled my drink during the movie. The last thing I want to feel is being awash with water after seeing Marky Mark get blasted with massive waves for about 2 hours!
The Perfect Storm came to Blu-ray not too long ago, so I felt it deserved a review after joining my collection this weekend. Some critics hated this film (only 47% on Rottom Tomatoes), but it definitely paid for lunch with a $325 MIL haul on only a $120 MIL budget.
Many people like to think that this movie is an accurate representation of what really happened to the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat from Gloucester, Mass. that encountered a ”perfect storm” in late October / early November of 1991. However, it only claims to be based on a 1997 non-fiction book called “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger.
Worse, the book itself has been accused of having factual errors, one-sided details & a bias against the fishing industry in its telling of the 1991 event. So, just remember that Warner Bros. needed to have a story to tell, & so it took some liberties with the known actual events. Examples of this include making more of George Clooney’s relationship with The Abyss alum Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s character, & attempting to recreate what happened to the Andrea Gail after it lost radio contact (which is of course unknown). I have no problem with this, as the film had a very dramatic ending filled with strong special effects. In fact, if the final 15-20 minutes didn’t break the way they did, I probably would’ve only given this film 2.5 stars. Thankfully it closed strong, so it gets a 3 star rating.
The casting in this movie was all over the place: Mastrantonio was perfect for her role, & Christopher McDonald plays an obnoxious weatherman like only he can. McDonald was so good as villainous jerk golfer Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore that I almost couldn’t see him as anything beyond that, but his dark sense of humor definitely adds to the film. The scene where he checks out his Doppler radar stormcenter is hilarious! As McDonald excitedly explains to a disinterested female coworker how 3 massive hurricane storm systems are about to converge, he sounds like he’s about to spray his khakis!
Clooney was solid, as was Diane Lane. Lane’s fisherman love interest in the film was supposed to be played by Drive Angry‘s Nic Cage, who had to back out due to other commitments. As a result the role went to Wahlberg, who (surprise, surprise) played a tough Boston character to perfection. While Cage was on a hot streak in the late 90s with The Rock, Con-Air & Face/Off, he could’ve easily sunk this film! (no pun intended)
Can you even imagine Cage in Wahlberg’s role?? The waves are beating down on the boat, Clooney looks to him for confidence, & Cage just leans in & groans in his tough-guy voice: “We need to launch the green flares & wait for the cavalry” (quote from The Rock) LOL
The one guy I could never take seriously was John C. Reilly. After seeing him in that vulgar yet funny ”Boats ‘N Hoes“ music video for Step Brothers, it was tough to see him in a dramatic role as a scruffy swordfisherman. To be fair, Step Brothers came out much later (2008), & when The Perfect Storm finally came to Blu-ray the editors could hardly have taken him out of the film due to logistal & contractual constraints.
James Horner adds an inspired soundtrack, & the Blu-ray comes with 3 documentaries & 3 audio commentary tracks. If you like action/aquatic films, add this one to your collection!
Verdict: 3 stars (out of 4)