The Perfect Storm


Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Written by:William D. Wittliff
Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, Karen Allen, William Fichtner, Bob Gunton, John C. Reilly
Released: June 29, 2000
Grade: A-

Billy Tyne (Clooney) is captain of the Andrea Gail.  The year is 1991 and Billy finds himself in a fishing slump.  His catches have been way down in recent trips and with threats from both his boss and members of his crew, he could soon be finding his way into a new line of work.

Determined to prove them wrong, Billy rounds up his crew for one last trip before the winter sets in.  One of the crew, Bobby Shatford (Wahlberg), has left despite the wishes of his wife (Lane). She’s ready to settle down and make a go of it with Bobby and wants him to give up his fishing career.

What they encountered on that trip is what meteorologists define as the “perfect storm” - when a cold front, a low and a hurricane collide to create a massive weather system.  Crucial navigation decisions will have to be made that will affect their survival as the ultimate battle between man and Mother Nature takes form.

Director Wolfgang Petersen (Air Force One, Das Boat) has pulled off a supreme directorial effort for The Perfect Storm and is backed by the wonderful editing of Australian Richard Francis-Bruce (The Shawshank Redemption, Seven) and the cinematography from another Aussie, John Seale (The English Patient, Rain Man).

The special effects in The Perfect Storm comfortably surpass those seen in other disaster films of recent years.  The line between live and computer-generated has been blended with such precision that it’s impossible to differentiate between the two.  The realism provided by the visual effects are the key to supporting the screenplay and giving the story it’s “edge of your seat” quality.  It’s rare to see such a developed plot feature in an action film.  Time is actually taken at the start of this film to develop characters.  As seen by this week’s other release, Gone In 60 Seconds, the action should be built around the story and not vise-versa.

The acting performances are top-notch with some great scenes shared between two stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.  Also working effectively was the creation of several, smaller sub-stories which helped build tension and create a higher interest level.

Perhaps the only downside to The Perfect Storm was the drawn out ending.  Without giving too much away, the film’s final five minutes release the tight grip the film has over the audience and is most unnecessary.

Not to be overlooked as another one of those Hollywood summer disaster movies, The Perfect Storm relies upon a super cast and crew to creates a film with power and feeling that throws up more than a few surprises for the better.   A “perfect” action movie.