Against Squall Odds
The Perfect Storm
Review by Ross Anthony

In a small Massachusetts fishing village, the season comes to a close smack dab in the middle of Sword-boat Captain Billy Tyne's slump. Again, his crew returns from the sea with a pittance of a catch, leaving them all with a pain in the pocket book. Taking the hit personally, Clooney (the Skipper) decides to sail the ship out one more time after only a day and half's stay in hopes of restocking his fish bins and confidence. The fishermen try to balance their lives on land with the steep ocean swells. First mate Wahlberg puts it this way, "I got a woman I can't stand to be two feet away from. Then again, I love to fish." Captain George knows the quandary, "Son, you got a problem."

Slow going like the fish-catching, the first half of the film is as bland as the second half is exciting. We must first be introduced to our crew and their loved ones (and rivals) on land before we go to sea. The perfect storm doesn't even begin to brew until the halfway mark at which point the crew must decide to venture into the bowels of hell or safely wait it out while their valuable catch spoils. Of course, they go for it.

And what a storm it is! Though digitally assisted, this is one "in your face" hurricane. Huge waves, thick soot-filled clouds, winds with the force of an anchor slung from a chain. Clooney and Wahlberg slide all over this water-engorged deck as the sea comes at them from every direction. The team's turmoil is integrated with a battered 24 foot sailboat's tumult and a coast guard helicopter rescue team as they brave the skies of bullet rain. This high intensity action sequence will have you clutching the arms of your seat, or the arms of the person seated next to you.

The story itself has many of the elements of the disaster film formula: the waiting loved ones, the feuding crewmates, the slick newscaster tracking the story. The script offers standard dialogue, just to tell the story, nothing much to chew on. So the weaker actors don't get any help from the writers. The most interesting character drama comprises a couple of chips shouldered by two feuding fishermen. Reilly and Fichtner have the acting power to back up the animosity. Despite good performance by Clooney and Wahlberg, these rivaling crewmen give the film it's strongest character driven drama.

Quite slow from the gate to half, where it rushes like a waterfall to the near end, it's a stirring ride, but not a must see film.

Ending notes -- Warning! Ending revealed! Read at your own risk!

  • The Perfect Storm. Copyright © 2000.
  • Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, William Fichtner, Karen Allen, Allen Payne, Bob Gunton, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and John C. Reilly.
  • Directed by Wolgang Petersen.
  • Written by William D. Wittliff and Bo Goldman. (Based on a true story)
  • Produced by Wolgang Petersen, Paula Weinstein, Gail Katz at Warner Bros(C)2000. Rated R.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:00:46 PDT