07/10/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
, Mark Wahlberg, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Diane Lane
go, Bobby, I got a bad feeling."
She may not be seeing dead people just yet, but her sixth sense is right on target. Bobby Shatford and his crewmates are about to run straight into a colossal storm—in fact, three colliding colossal storms—that engulfed the East Coast in October 1991, wreaking havoc with anything unlucky enough to be out on the frigid waters of the North Atlantic at the time. The Perfect Storm
, based on Sebastian Junger's enthralling 1997 nonfiction bestseller and directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Air Force One), recounts in drenching detail exactly what happened to the Andrea Gail and its six-man crew when nature let loose.
is far from perfect. The movie's tempest scenes are spectacular, with 100-ft. waves tossing boats like rubber ducks in a bathtub. But when everyone's dry, the movie's all wet. On land, characters and their motivations are so scantily developed that viewers have little reason to care when, late in the film, Andrea Gail captain Billy Tyne (Clooney) and his men recklessly head right into the center of the storm, spurred on by Tyne's rallying cry, "Are you Gloucestermen?" The most dramatically effective scenes, in fact, have nothing to do with the Andrea Gail's crew but rather show brave coastguardsmen risking their lives to rescue a trio of barely introduced characters from a fancy sloop.
Clooney has little to do besides talk tough and literally laugh in the face of danger, letting out maniacal cackles as he muscles his boat through crashing waves. Wahlberg is more affecting, but you know his fate from the moment he promises Lane that this will be his final trip. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: Choppy crossing