Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2003. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Miramax, Universal Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Films. Screenplay by Peter Weir, John Collee, based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian. Cinematography by Russell Boyd. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn Jr., Duncan Henderson, Peter Weir. Music by Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon, Richard Tognetti. Production Design by William Sandell. Costume Design by Wendy Stites. Film Editing by Lee Smith. Academy Awards 2003. American Film Institute Awards 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2003. National Board of Review Awards 2003.
Excellent adventure film perfectly recaptures the spirit of the original Mutiny On The Bounty and other grand epics of yesteryear. Russell Crowe is masterful and commanding as the captain of a British ship that is brutally attacked by a mysterious French frigate on a foggy nineteenth-century morning. He refuses to take such an insult lying down, and so cracks down on his men to get the ship repaired and ready to chase the Napoleonic ship as far as he needs to go in order to get his own back. The voyage takes the crew as far as the Galapagos islands before our hero has to face the fact that his relentlessness is due less to patriotism and more to personal pride. Peter Weir’s intelligent direction makes sure to include all grimy details of life on the great open sea, never letting the romantic photography overpower the terrific character interactions or the harsh depictions of life in war. The film’s only drawback is a rather wonky screenplay, one that keeps the characters brilliantly realized throughout but sometimes seems to be guessing as to where it wants to go next. Still, it’s no matter considering how enjoyable it is and how quickly it goes by. Paul Bettany is a standout as the ship’s doctor and the captain’s best friend, and the relationship between these two is one of the most entertaining personal/professional power struggles seen on film between two men since Becket.