A group of fisherman get caught in a severe storm and have to fight dangerous winds and waves to make it back to port alive.
“The Perfect Storm” is directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who is known for his films “Das Boot,” “The Neverending Story,” and “Air Force One.” The screenplay is written by William T. Wittliff, who adapted the story from a book by Sebastian Junger. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring George Clooney as Billy Tyne, the captain of the ill-fated fishing boat. Joining him as the crew members of that boat are Mark Wahlberg as Bobby Shatford, John C. Reilly as Dale Murphy, William Fitchner as David Sullivan, John Hawkes as Mike Moran, and Allen Payne as Alfred Pierre. After a bad haul, Billy is looking to head back out to try their luck one last time for a bigger haul. To find a better fishing area, he goes far outside the normal fishing grounds, which puts him and his crew smack dab in the middle of two converging storms.
The filmmakers spend the first portion of the film building up these characters and their relationships on the boat and back on shore, showing what there is to lose for the crew itself. Most the focus is on the character Bobby Shatford and his girlfriend Christina, played by Diane Lane, who was going to surprise Bobby with their brand new home when he got back from this job. They also spend time showcasing Billy Tyne and his professional relationship that has blatant romantic undertones with Linda Greenlaw, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Tyne also butts heads with the owner of the boat he captains Bob Brown, played by Michael Ironside, giving Billy the proper motivation for his quick turnaround and effort to really show him what’s what. There is also some drama internally because there is conflict between certain members of the crew, which brings plenty of opportunities for redemption. Of course, there is also a ton of fishing, the impending storm, along with a broken ice maker that causes a lot of trouble. With the ice maker broken, the crew have to brave the storm or risk losing their entire catch.
The main draw of the film is the big effects-driven storm and the peril that comes with it. During the storm, there is a weird subplot about another recreational sailing boat that gets caught in it as well, all of whom must be rescued by the Coast Guard at the same time. We aren’t exactly sure why exactly this subplot is shoved in there as it seems to exist only as filler. Maybe it’s there to explain why the fishing boat didn’t receive aid from the Coast Guard, but even with that explanation, these scenes seem superfluous.
“The Perfect Storm” is a film more about the spectacle than anything else. It’s all about the visuals of the special effects-driven disaster, which tries to create intense moments of action in a man-versus-nature scenario. The rest of the movie is mediocre at best in terms of its story, dialogue, character development and acting. At least it has the storm.